Please tell us, what's the first step in preparing a presentation?
– The first step is, of course, to determine the topic and its relevance to your audience. To do this, you should understand who your audience is: what are their interests, problems, and needs. This will influence the title of your presentation, and help you understand exactly who will be listening to it and how to structure your presentation's logic.
Is there any sort of universal checklist that people should use when preparing a presentation?
– Sure, it's always a good idea to make a plan first. To start with, it should be a list of topics. That will help you to lay out clearly how your presentation begins, what the essence is, and how the talk will end. At this stage, it's important to recognize and plan out your presentation's logic, to create links between ideas and to define what conclusions the listener will eventually come to. Be sure to say your theses out loud to yourself, talk about each point separately, and create a logical conclusion. It'll help you figure out which points were clear and which were unnecessary and weak. Ideally, you should practice giving your presentation to yourself at least three times. This will help you optimally plan your presentation while including interesting asides or stories and, most importantly, you'll get the timing down.
Is it worth writing out the text of your speech?
– Never write a text for yourself to follow. This is a surefire way to condemn yourself to methodical reading of your presentation, which will consequently result in a confused speech and a lost audience. And the worst part is that you'll have this irresistible lure to glance down at your paper constantly, or even read straight from it. In addition, the audience will figure out that your presentation is just a memorized one in no time. These kinds of presentations have a pronounced lack of liveliness and interactivity, the text doesn't have a natural flow to it, your listeners will start to lose interest and leave their seats, and the presentation will not be successful.
How do you figure out how to carry yourself for a presentation?
– The answer lies in the audience. Look closely at them. That will help you to figure out how you should talk: your energy, emotions, pose, and gestures. Having some experience giving your presentation is important here: ideally, you should take some lessons or at least test it out in front of your colleagues.
When is the right time to include visual elements?
– When you are sure about your script and timing, only then should you think about your visual elements. Design a presentation, create video clips, handouts, and other visual gloss. But remember: the main part of the presentation is the speaker. The most common mistake is to hide yourself behind the visual effects. Sometimes speakers even display the entire text of their presentation. Don't do this! It reduces the quality of your presentation instantly, and the audience loses interest.
How do you overcome nerves before a presentation?
– The first thing is having experience, as I mentioned before. A well-prepared presentation is the key to success. And shortly before the presentation, I suggest burning off some adrenaline with a little exercise. Something light, like running stairs, sit-ups, just to get yourself warmed up. Next thing is to think about how you breathe: a deep breath in, then out, two breaths in, and two out. This will help soothe your nerves. Another proven method is to communicate with your audience in advance: ask previous speakers questions, talk to the people who will be watching your presentation during the coffee break.This way you'll increase your credibility and the audience will know you, the speaker, better.