Ten top tips for presenting from Jacqui Harper MBE

I was going through some old notes today and came across these top ten tips for presenting. Although many are familiar suggestions, numbers four and eight are less so, and worthy of attention.

They come from a Top Tips for Presenting workshop delivered by Jacqui Harper MBE, M.D. of Crystal Business Training, way back in November 2006, but are just as relevant now.

1. Start by identifying the purpose of the presentation for your audience.
The key thing to ask yourself is ‘what’s in it for the audience?’ Once you know the answer to this you’re on your way to creating a great presentation.

2. Use key messages and a simple structure to convey your points.
The best presenters communicate clearly and concisely with key messages that are easy to follow.

3. Make your material relevant and interesting for your audience.
Keeping an audience’s attention is quite straightforward if your material is adapted to their specific needs and interests. Audiences like to know you’ve done a bit of homework for them.

4. Rehearse your presentation at least twice.
It’s even better if you can tape your rehearsals with a camcorder. This speeds up familiarity with your material and dramatically improves your fluency.

5. Make sure your presentation has a strong impact at the beginning.
Your audiences are most attentive at the beginning of a presentation – if you engage them at the start you’re most likely to keep them.

6. Show the audience you care about your material and them.
Showing passion for your subject and a genuine interest in your audience always goes down well.

7. Use light touches of humour when you can to build rapport.
It doesn’t need to be a stand up routine. Occasional humorous comments instantly build rapport.

8. Only use PowerPoint when you absolutely have to!
PowerPoint will generally send audiences to sleep unless it’s really well used. It’s far better to ditch the slides and speak directly to the audience.

9. Dress in an outfit that makes you feel good and is appropriate.
A smart, well-groomed appearance will boost your confidence and impress your audience.

10. Get training!
All good speakers have had training. The cheapest way to train yourself is to buy a self-help guide like ‘Voices of Experience: The Expert’s to Making Great Presentations’. The quickest way to learn is to do a public speaking course with specialist companies like Crystal Business Training.

I also remember her advice to practice vocal exercises before every presentation.

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