Ludmila Boiko, Aloyna Efremova, Dasha Kazakova
Presentation is the practice of showing and explaining the content of a topic to an audience or learner.
There are two basic purposes for giving oral presentations:
- to inform;
- to persuade.
A good presentation contains at least four elements:
• Content. It contains information that people need. Presentations must account for how much information the audience can absorb in one sitting.
• Structure. It has a logical beginning, middle, and end. It must be sequenced and paced so that the audience can understand it.
• Packaging. It must be well prepared. A report can be reread and portions skipped over, but with a presentation, the audience is at the mercy of a presenter.
• Human Element. A good presentation will be remembered much more than a good report because it has a person attached to it.
The beginning. The beginning shapes the rest of the presentation and serves two main purposes:
1. To grab the attention of your audience.
2. To calm the elevated levels of adrenaline racing through your bloodstream, so that you can relax into your presentation.
There is no definitive right or wrong attention-grabber – simply begin with something that you are comfortable with, and which seems to work. Here are a few suggestions:
1. A funny story, if you feel able to deliver one with humour. Avoid religious, sexual, sexist or racist jokes.
2. A short video clip – make sure that it is less than 60 seconds.
3. A short animation.
4. A touch of suspense. For example, walk on with a cardboard box and place it in the middle of the stage – but do not tell people what it is there for. This option is probably best if practised beforehand with a trial audience of friends or colleagues. They will ensure that your prop does not just confuse people.
The middle. The rule of three is a good technique for the middle section of a presentation.
The rule of three is based on the idea that three is the optimum number of points to form a pattern of information that sticks in the memory. In oratory it comes up all the time. Here are some examples: “Friends, Romans, countrymen”; “The good, the bad and the ugly”; “Blood, sweat and tears”
Think about it – if there are only three points that you would like to leave the audience with, what would they be? These three points should form the middle of the presentation.
All you now have to do is to think of ways of illustrating these points and then you have the bulk of the structure of the presentation.
The end. The end is more important than the beginning. This is because of the recency factor – put simply, people are likely to remember the last thing they are told much more than the points made earlier in a presentation. This particularly applies to lists.
So a good ending of the presentation is essential. There are a number of techniques that can work well, but they should link in to the main structure of the presentation.
The first step of a great presentations is preplanning. The second step is to prepare the presentation. A good presentation starts out with introductions and may include an icebreaker such as a story, interesting statement or fact, or an activity to get the group warmed up. The introduction also needs an objective of the presentation. This not only tells you what you will talk about, but it also informs the audience of the purpose of the presentation.
Next, come to the body of the presentation. Do NOT write it out word for word. All you want is an outline. By jotting down the main points on a set of index cards, you not only have your outline, but also a memory jogger for the actual presentation.
To prepare the presentation, ask yourself the following:
• What is the purpose of the presentation?
• Who will be attending?
• What does the audience already know about the subject?
• What is the audience's attitude towards me (e.g. hostile, friendly)?
There are several options for structuring the presentation:
• Timeline: Arranged in sequential order.
• Climax: The main points are delivered in order of increasing importance.
• Problem/Solution: A problem is presented, a solution is suggested, and benefits are then given.
• Classification: The important items are the major points.
• Simple to complex: Ideas are listed from the simplest to the most complex. Can also be done in reverse order.
After the body, comes the closing. This is where you ask for questions, provide a wrap-up (summary), and thank the participants for attending.
• Do not put both hands in your pockets for long periods of time. This tends to make you look unprofessional. It is OK to put one hand in a pocket but ensure there is no loose change or keys to jingle around. This will distract the listeners.
• Do not lean on the podium for long periods. The audience will begin to wonder when you are going to fall over.
• Speak to the audience...NOT to the visual aids, such as flip charts or overheads. Also, do not stand between the visual aid and the audience.
• The disadvantage of presentations is that people cannot see the punctuation and this can lead to misunderstanding. An effective way of overcoming this problem is to pause at the time when there would normally be punctuation marks.
• Learn the name of each participant as quickly as possible. Based upon the atmosphere you want to create, call them by their first names or by using Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms.
• Listen intently to comments and opinions. By using a lateral thinking technique, the audience will feel that their ideas, comments, and opinions are worthwhile.
• Vary your techniques (lecture, discussion, debate, films, slides, reading, etc.).
• Get to the presentation before your audience arrives; be the last one to leave.
• Be prepared to use an alternate approach if the one you've chosen seems to bog down. You should be confident enough with your own material so that the audience's interests and concerns, not the presentation outline, determines the format. Use your background, experience, and knowledge to interrelate your subject matter.
• Consider the time of day and how long you have got for your talk. Time of day can affect the audience. After lunch is known as the graveyard section in training and speaking circles as audiences will feel more like a nap than attending a presentation.
• Most people find that if they practice in their head, the actual talk will take about 25 percent longer. Using a flip chart or other visual aids also adds to the time. Remember – it is better to finish slightly early than to overrun.
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2. Gwinn, A. Business Reports - Investigation and Presentation / A. Gwinn. – Philadelphia.: Saunders Press, 2007. – 273 p.
3. Grant-Williams R. Voice Power: Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention / R. Grant-Williams. – New York.: AMACOM, 2002. – 324 p.
4. Rogers C.R. The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change / C.R. Rogers // Journal of Consulting Psychology. – 1957. – 2A. – P. 95-103.
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