Bad grammar is like bad breath: Even your best friends won’t tell you. And somebody should.
Many presenters take a good two-minute idea and dilute it with a sixty-minute vocabulary.
What is the goal of this presentation? What will we think, feel, or do differently after this meeting? Answers are absolute prerequisites.
If you haven't discovered www.ted.com by now, I urge you to watch some of these presentations. At least 90% are excellent. Think about the characteristics that make these people good presenters and "borrow" the ones that work for you. I'm not suggesting that you become someone else when presenting (authenticity is paramount)...just pick up on some of their best practices.
You've probably heard me preach time and again that a great presenter focuses on the audience. Many novice or mediocre presenters tend to focus on themselves. They take a bit of a narcissistic view by thinking they are the center of the attention and work hard to fulfill their own needs. This is one of the reasons why they are so "nervous."
The outstanding presenter's goal is to meet the needs of her audience. She knows how to shift the focus of attention so that the members of her audience are thinking about how the topic impacts them...how they are going to use or apply the information.
This does not mean that you should think less of yourself, is simply means you think of yourself less.
People begin judging us the moment they see us. Then, the instant we start speaking, they form judgments about our competence, our reliability, our product, our company, even our entire industry. Perception becomes reality. Major decisions are made and careers advanced (or slowed) because of good (or bad) presentations.
“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Most presenters tend to start off with something like “I want to tell you…” or “I want everyone in this room to know…” These phrases imply that it is about what you want (as the presenter) rather than what your audience wants or needs.
When you present, you are trying to persuade others to think, feel, or do something differently. This involves selling a product or an idea. Therefore, if you are the seller (presenter), then it is not about what you want, it is about what your buyer (audience) wants.
Try removing “I want” statements, especially during the first few minutes of your presentation. It’s simple to do. Try something like this, “Today you will discover…” or “During the next couple of minutes, you will learn…” Or use the collective “we” as in “Together we will explore…”
People crave closure. We like books and movies that wrap things up and say "The End." At the conclusion of your presentation, your audience wants you to wrap up the loose ends and bring everything into perspective.
Most mediocre presenters close their presentations by saying something like this, “Well, that’s it. Are there any questions?” There may be a question or two, then, realizing she is out time (or past her time), the presenter say’s, “It looks like we are out of time. Thanks for coming." There is nothing wrong with that type of closing. It is an acceptable and mediocre way to close.
The outstanding presenter chooses a different closing. Rather than closing on the thoughts of an audience member, the outstanding presenter allows time for the audience's thoughts and comments throughout and several minutes before the conclusion of her presentation. She saves the last few minutes for her strong closing, i.e, the message she wants her audience to remember long after her presentation. Then she ends with a simple and powerful, “thank you.”