You clearly need to prepare so that you can make the maximum impact on your audience. Here are my 10 tips for an effective presentation:
- Be yourself: People want to hear from you - your views and stories and your key messages. You don't become a different person just because you are speaking in public.
- Structure. This sounds boring but make sure your talk has a clear beginning, middle and end. You need to work particularly on your opening and closing statements. You need a strong start to attract attention. You need a conclusion so you can finish confidently and with conviction.
- Quotes. You can add value to a presentation by effective use of quotes or stories to illustrate your point. Do be careful with jokes - but amusing anecdotes can help.
- Speak from the heart. Try not to read your speech, as this can sometimes come across as listless. Your commitment is your best asset. This will breed enthusiasm.
- Remember your audience. All presentations need to be tailored to the audience, in your case the board and staff. Think about what it is they would want to hear from you. So tackle problems as well as outlining your vision for the organisation. Remember to maintain eye contact with the audience as much as you can.
- The power of the pause. Don't rush what you are saying and remember that pauses and silences can add to the impact.
- Use voice and body. Gestures and variety in pitch and pace and volume increase effectiveness, but don't become a windmill. This is another reason why it is better not to read a prepared speech. Use notes of key points rather than a written speech.
- Practice and preparation. Do try out some of the key points with a mentor, friend or trusted staff colleague. But don't spend too much time on this otherwise it could become over rehearsed.
- Length. Err on the side of a short speech. Don't over elaborate.
- Relax. It ain't life threatening. Enjoy the chance to speak to your board and staff.
Finally, a quote from poet Stephen Spender (speaking in a debate at the Cambridge Union): "I fear I cannot make an amusing speech. I have just been reading a book which says that 'all geniuses are devoid of humour'."
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