Since we’re having speaking class again I felt like publishing a few important tips again. Even after a lot of time giving presentations those few points still remain on the check-list. Avoid them under all circumstances.
1: Starting with an excuse. Very often speakers start with an excuse. “First of all sorry but I’m a bit sick / hungover / jet-lagged / etc…” – Cut it out! The audience is there (and probably even paid for it) to see a great presentation. Telling them you’re not able to “perform” is just disrespectful. How would you feel if you go to see the Lakers and Kobe Bryant would say ‘yo, sorry, but I went out partying yesterday so I’m not able to give 100% today’?
2: Telling the audience to wait. Once in a while you might come across an audience that is actually interested in interactive presentations and eager to participate. That’s awesome and you should enjoy and embrace it. Don’t tell them something like “Let me come back to that later”. You will forget about it anyways. Interact right away, encourage them to ask further and compliment them regarding their interaction with you.
3: Checking sound Seriously? Starting by asking “Hey, can everybody hear me?” – Man that’s a professional speech that you are giving here. The sound shouldn’t be an issue. If you have the feeling the sound isn’t working, try again. Calm and politley. Simply start over. If you still think it’s not working simply let the technician know. Always keep smiling and in contact with the audience. Don’t panic and always keep a towel handy.
4: Bright lights Relates to the “excuses” point in the beginning. “I can’t really see you guys ’cause I’m looking right into the light” – Oh poor you! Again. Professional presentation. People pay to see you. Don’t bore them with things like that. Make it happen! Stay focused, cool, do your job and make them happy.
5: Can you read this? Asking if the audience can read your slides just shows that you are not sure whether or not you did your job and prepared good slides. When your audience is old, make it bigger. No kidding. Besides that you shouldn’t have to many words on each slide anyways. But you know that already, right?
6: “I’ll read that to you” Do not do this ever again! If there is to much text on your slides so that nobody in the audience can read it, it is way to much! There is nothing worse than text on a slide that you read out loud. Your audience will lose attention and doze off or, if you’re lucky, simply read by themselves. No matter what: They will stop listening to you. If you insist on having a few sentences on your slide, let the audience read it by themselves and stay quiet for a while. Nevertheless it would be way better not to do such a thing.
7: Tell the audience to turn of their electronic devices When I was younger so much younger than today….people told the audience to switch of their phones. Those days are over! I feel a bit silly mentioning it but I just saw that with some of my colleagues. In times of facebook, twitter, etc. you can’t tell people to stop using that. In fact you should encourage them to use social media during your talk and spread the word. If you have the feeling that people spend more time looking at their laptops than listening to your speech….improve your speech!
8. Telling the audience not to take notes That’s one of the mistakes I made quite a few times in the beginning. I told my students / audience that all my slides will be online to download so nobody would have to take more notes. When thinking about it that was total rubbish though. Writing thoughts down is one of the best ways of remembering stuff and processing new thoughts. Your audience might even come up with some good question while doing this. So don’t fight it! And btw…it’s almost 2014 so I simply expect your presentation to be available online.
9: Answering questions immediately It’s super cool that you decide to answer questions from the audience right away. We had that point earlier. However, before you answer a question you should repeat it first since many times audience members don’t have microphones available to ask their questions. Furthermore, repeating the question would give you some more time to think about a good answer.
10: Let’s keep it short Yeah. No! That’s never gonna happen and everybody knows that. Furthermore it’s not an issue. The audience is there because of you – they are not there to have lots of breaks. You can, of course, announce your time estimation in the beginning and then finish a bit early to give them time to ask or to meet them outside (“I’ll finish a bit early and if you are interested we can talk more about this topic while having a coffee outside.”). Important after announcing an estimated time frame: Stick to it!
Thank you very much for your attention!!! (sic!)