Making Effective Presentations Part III


The aim is to convey a message that is worth hearing to an audience who wants to  hear it.

A presentation has three parts: 1) an introduction; 2) a body and 3) a closing.  Put simply, in the introduction, you tell the audience what you are going to tell them; in the body, you tell them, and in the conclusion, you tell them what you told them.  The introduction should take up 5-10% of the total time; the body, 70-80 %, and the closing, 5-10%.

Make eye contact with your audience before you start speaking. You need to make a connection with them and make a good impression.

In your introduction, identify the topic and purpose of your presentation. Place your topic in context.  Clarify the benefits of the presentation to the audience (why the presentation is relevant and important for them).  Give the audience an overview of your presentation: explain the layout and scope. State your preference with regard to questions.  Would you like the audience to hold questions until the end or can they interrupt you during the presentation?

Stand with your feet shoulder-length apart.  You should move about a little during the presentation, use gestures that are natural and vary the tone of your voice for emphasis and to keep the audience’s attention, but avoid incorrect body language like shifting continually from one foot to the other, toying with your notes and dramatic changes in the pitch of your voice.

Once you have the audience’s attention, you must maintain it.  Audience members ‘drift in and out’: you won’t have their full attention all the time. To help them refocus periodically and to make the information clear, you can give them different signals, such as:

  1. a list (“I will give you three main reasons why ……”)
  2. a link between parts of the presentation (“Now that I’ve talked about why this is important to you, let’s move on to …. “); ( “That’s all I have to say about …. I’d like to end with a summary of the main points.”)
  3. sequencing (“First, then ,next, finally), and
  4. repetition (“As I’ve already said, …)

The main body of the presentation contains the details of the subject or themes described in the introduction. All of the above techniques are useful in helping the audience to follow the information and remember it. They also help the speaker keep to the planned structure.

In your closing remarks, review and emphasize the key points, benefits and recommendation you talked about. For example. “If you follow these steps, three basic benefits will result ….”  Ask questions like “So what does all of this mean?” to promote discussion.

Techniques to improve your delivery include:

  • Using effective intonation
  • Speaking slowly and clearly: break your sentences into chunks (understandable groups of words separated by pauses)
  • Stressing key words
  • Showing enthusiasm and confidence
  • Keeping eye contact with the audience
  • Using appropriate body language
  • Making sure to keep to the time limit

Remember: you’re lost if you lose your audience.  Having clear objectives, a clear plan, and  clear signals are the secrets of presentation success.