Purple Monster's Top Tips For Presenting
There are many respected experts who can provide excellent presenter and personal impact coaching and we don’t pretend to know all the things that they do. We know some, and we’ve forgotten an awful lot more. What we do know, is that we have been hosting and facilitating corporate events for the last 25 years, with 3 of those years exclusively on camera. We have learned a few things that we think might be of interest and crucially will help your audience to focus on what you are saying, rather than wondering whether your background is real or not.
So here are our top 5 tips that we think audiences appreciate from their presenters… and by the way we try to follow them ourselves….most of the time.
- Talk slowly and clearly – your audience may not have English as their first language and even if they do it is hard for people to follow a fast speaker. In the early days of doing global events one of us would stand at the back of the room and gesture, to ‘slow down’. Nerves will make you speed up, so be deliberate in talking slowly and clearly.
- Don’t move around too much – whether you are presenting live, on a stage, for a few hundred people or if you are doing a ‘straight to camera’ piece you do need to make deliberate choices as to when to move. We are not recommending staying stock still, but stillness is powerful. Also on camera, a lot of jigging about is distracting and can leave people feeling a little seasick.
- This is an old acting tip, and in our company, there’s more than one ‘old actor’! In a big theatre you may have three or four levels of audience to include. So, pick a place to focus your attention, make great eye contact and then make a deliberate choice when to shift and find a new place. Really look into the eyes of your audience but remember they are not just sitting in the front row. You must include people at the back of the room too. In the virtual world you really must love the lens. Try not to let your eyes get distracted by things happening off camera. Imagine there is one person down the lens that you are talking to, and you’ll be more comfortable. You can look away and look back, but again, be deliberate.
- Prepare very well, and… rehearse! It’s tempting to think you don’t need to, but believe us when we say, it’s a recipe for, if not disaster, at least major discomfort for you and the audience. A thorough knowledge of your material will help not only bring meaning to your presentation, but also prepare you for the unexpected – such as the disappearance of your slide show. If you are new to presenting, then your safest bet is to really KNOW what you are talking about. And then rehearse, out loud. It may feel odd, but you’ll be glad you did it. You can practice in front of a mirror or better still, ask a kind friend to be your audience. Even a less than kind friend can still be useful. If you can engage a hostile audience, and we’ve come across a few, then the 99% of audiences who are on your side and want you to succeed will be a doddle. Practice makes perfect and the experience will come.
- Be yourself – unless you are a fast-talking fidget who moves about a lot and doesn’t like to prepare. Then be someone else. Obviously, what we mean by this is that authenticity in a presenter is better than getting everything exactly ‘right’. Going on stage with an ipad (other tablets are available) as a helpful prompt is a good idea. You don’t look unprofessional with an ipad in your hand, you look unprofessional if you forget the next speaker’s name when introducing them. Yes, we’ve learnt this the hard way.
Help yourself with prep and rehearsal, but by all means have your important bullets on cards or tablet.
We are sure there are many other things that will help in honing your presentation skills but if we had to pick one to really focus on it would be this. Don’t leave it to chance. Rehearse.