Presentations and public speaking
This Leadership Resource Sheet will help you:
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evaluate your audience and identify your speaking goal organize your content choose appropriate techniques for delivering your message improve your verbal and nonverbal speaking performance
Are you a presenter? Many people believe that effective public speaking is something that only a few people can do, leaving the rest of us to shuffle our feet, mumble our words, and get sweaty under the collar. However, communicating through presentations and public speaking is an acquired skill that everyone can develop. So, the good news is that if you don’t already consider yourself to be a presenter, you can become one! There are many ways to improve your speaking performance, and while some are suggested here, the most essential strategy is practice – and everyone can do that!
your audience assessment will help guide your topic selection, in general you should choose a topic you are familiar with and passionate about.
• What do you have to share? What do
Know your audience
Evaluating your audience is a critical but frequently overlooked aspect of presentation preparation. When you ensure that you understand your audience and their expectations, you will be able to better tailor your presentation content, language, and style to communicate effectively with them. Plan some time to ask yourself the questions below. If the answers are unknown to you, consult with whoever is coordinating your presentation event. This may be a professor or TA for an academic presentation, or a conference host for a conference presentation.
you already know about this topic? What related experience do you have? What else do you need to learn about the topic?
ways, developing a presentation is similar to writing an essay; your presentation must contain an introduction, body, and conclusion. As you develop content, keep in mind the core message and goals you identiﬁed in the previous step. Together these components will create your outline.
Your introduction should grab the attention of your audience, introduce your topic, and give a preview of what is to come. 1 Start with a bang! Use a quotation, exciting fact, or other attention-getter to hook your audience. Establish the importance/relevance of your topic to this particular audience. Your audience must have a reason to be interested, or you will lose their attention. Your introduction should give the audience an overview. Participants will enjoy the presentation more when they can anticipate what is to come.
Identify your core message. What lasting impression do you want to leave your audience with? The answer to this question is the foundation of your presentation – all the information you share should support or explain your core message. How will you communicate your message? What are the important points? Is there supporting evidence for your message? Should you use examples to explain your idea? What should your audience learn or understand by the end of your presentation? Are there other outcomes you would like to achieve? These answers form the foundation of your presentation goals. Do you have expectations for your audience? How will you help them meet these expectations? Once you’ve determined your primary message and goals, write them down clearly and succinctly. Having a clear vision of the “whys” of your presentation will assist you in developing strong content.
Why are you delivering a presentation? Who will be the members of your audience (classmates, fellow club members, colleagues, etc.)? What is your prior relationship to your audience? Have they heard of you before? Do they know what you do or why you are presenting to them? Why is your audience listening to you? What has brought them to the presentation venue? What does your audience want or expect to take away at the end of your presentation?
The body of your presentation develops your topic in a clear, organized way. Here are some guidelines: 1 Develop your core message using 3 – 5 primary points, supporting arguments, or ideas. You may have more or fewer points, but in general, 3 – 5 will adequately support your idea and be manageable for your audience to follow and remember. Where possible, use speciﬁc examples, concrete details, and illustrations. Do you have any anecdotes or experience
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Define your goals and message
All presentations are a form of communication, and your enthusiasm for a topic will inﬂuence how your audience responds to the knowledge, information, and insights you share with them. So, while
This next step has nothing to do with you standing at the front of the room – it has to do with you sitting at your desk. In many 2
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that relates to your topic area? Personal stories or observations will enhance your credibility and make your presentation more interesting. 3 Do your research! If you share facts or details, ensure that your sources are accurate. Nothing will weaken your credibility more than misstating information for your audience.
Select language and words that your audience will understand. Talk with them, not at them. Do not qualify remarks or apologize for any aspect of your presentation. Speak with conviction. Sound like you care. Make your audience realize how important your topic is. If you use PowerPoint, avoid relying heavily on your slides; look at your audience and connect with them. it word for word. Only your introduction and conclusion should be memorized.
ing opportunity a learning opportunity. Each time you give a presentation or speak in public, reﬂect on what went well and not so well so that you can make adjustments for future opportunities. Avoid dwelling on the negative; instead look at glitches as opportunities to improve your style.
Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect presentation. Presenting and public speaking are extremely effective methods of sharing important information. While they can be daunting at ﬁrst, presentations provide an opportunity to really connect with, and receive immediate feedback from, your audience. For this reason, many people ﬁnd that with practice public speaking becomes more rewarding than other forms of communication. The best way to get speaking practice is to seize every opportunity to speak in front of a group, no matter the size of the audience or length of the presentation. As you develop your skills, you’ll probably ﬁnd that the presence of a “live studio audience” allows you to be more ﬂexible in delivering your message, depending on your audience’s level of understanding and interest. Ensure you take time to know your audience, establish your message, develop clear and interesting content, and match your content with your delivery plan . Still, above all, practice will help you to improve your presentation skills. Always leave time to practice before your real presentation and look for opportunities to communicate through public speaking. Good luck!
The ﬁnal portion of your presentation creates the lasting impression – make it count! The conclusion should brieﬂy summarize your presentation, leave an impact, and provide closure. 1 Brieﬂy summarize the main points of your presentation. A good strategy is to mirror your introduction in style. 2 Budget your time carefully as you plan your presentation so that you leave room for a powerful conclusion. If your presentation does run more slowly than expected, condense but don’t eliminate your conclusion. Your presentation may appear to lack focus or direction if you don’t offer closure for your audience. 3 Be prepared for probable questions. A friend or colleague may be able to help you anticipate these when you practice.
• Do not write out your talk and then read
Nonverbal performance: what will you show your audience?
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Personal appearance is of utmost importance. Come with an attitude that says you are glad to be there. Posture is extremely important. Gestures should be purposeful. Avoid excessive hand gestures or movements. Arrange your notes and have props or other visual aids close at hand. Maintain good eye contact with your audience. Act with conﬁdence.
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Now that you’ve determined what you’ll say, it’s time to consider how you will say it. There are many good techniques for sharing information, and you will need to determine the best strategies for your audience and your content. To keep things interesting, most presenters ﬁnd it helpful to integrate a few different types of communication into their presentations. Most of all, it’s important that you’re comfortable with your delivery techniques – an audience can always perceive someone who is not comfortable with their material. Be genuine and share your passion for this topic. Remember, it’s critical that your delivery matches your message, but delivery shouldn’t get in the way!
Know why you are integrating an activity. What outcome do you intend to achieve? Activities should support and improve the message you are sending. Practice your activity before your presentation. Use follow-up or debrieﬁng questions to help the audience understand how the activity relates to your presentation. Prepare extra debrieﬁng questions and be able to ask them in an alternate way if dialogue lags.
Places to practice or improve your speaking skills:
Walter Gage Toastmasters This ams Club is a chapter of Toastmasters International. Guests are welcome to attend the club’s weekly meetings. www.ams.ubc.ca/clubs/toastmasters UBC Debating Society The ubcds offers workshops as well as regular club meetings – a great way to improve your speaking style. www.ubcdebate.com UBC Student Leadership Conference (SLC) Held annually in January, the slc is an opportunity for ubc students to present to their peers within the conference program. www.ams.ubc.ca/slc
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Verbal performance: how will you say it?
Your purpose will guide every other consideration. Keep it in mind at all times. Have your audience in mind throughout the process of preparation. Once you start to present, the most important and richest resource is you. Humour can play an important part in presentations. If something unexpected happens, go with it – only you know how it was supposed to go. Use reﬂection to help make each speak-
Practice beforehand out loud. The key to successful public speaking is practice! Study and critique other speakers. You will learn a lot by observing your own reaction to speakers. What do they do to draw you in? What’s happening when you tune out or lose focus? Time yourself carefully. Speak clearly and distinctly. Pause before and after important ideas.
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