Giving a presentation can be tough. Whether it's in a company meeting room, a university classroom, or at a professional conference, getting up in front of people to talk about any topic is harrowing at best. Sometimes there is a podium or desk to stand behind, but that doesn't stop the fact that all eyes in the room are focused on you.
However, presentations don't have to be frightening or even difficult with the proper tools. Many speakers have trusted methods to control their anxiety and dread associated with public speaking. With the right preparation and presentation, it's possible to leave the room feeling empowered after your presentation. Here are a few tips to get ready for your speaking assignment:
1. Understand the Audience
Most presentations are delivered in front of an audience of peers, but there are times when the audience could be older or of a different socioeconomic stature. Depending on your audience, you should cater your language and topic focus to get your idea across properly. Understanding the audience and what they would like in a presentation is the most important step toward a successful speech.
2. Research Thoroughly
Knowing the topic at hand is essential for confidence in an informative presentation. The research is also important to keep the conversation going after the presentation; the ability to answer questions on the topic is likely to improve your audience's opinion of you and your speech. Anyone delivering information on a topic should strive to become an authority in that field.
3. Use Documentation
While it may not seem important in a presentation, documenting sources is always essential. The documentation can be mentioned in the presentation simply by prefacing statements with, "According to...." Additionally, having a list of documented resources to hand out afterwards is sometimes a requirement.
4. Write It Out
Never try to wing it or go off the cuff. If you can memorize the speech, that's fine -- but make sure all points are backed up with facts. Some presenters will use full sheets of paper while others prefer index cards. The medium for the speech will depend upon the presenter's confidence and the type of presentation to be delivered.
Whether rehearsal is done alone or in the presence of a few friends, it needs to be done. Go over the speech out loud to find any flaws. Look for places where you might trip or slow down and fix those areas. One of the most common mistakes in presentations is an overload of information -- students tend to add all the information to a speech to avoid missing points, then get lost in the words during the presentation.
6. Dress Up
Depending on the situation, you may not need to dig your full suit out of the back of your closet, but do make sure your appearance is clean and groomed. Nothing is more nerve-wracking than finding a stain on your shirt right before the presentation. Being comfortable with your appearance will help boost confidence when you get in front of the room.