Throughout mankind’s history, we have used our voice in getting our points across to an individual or a whole community. Before paper or writing were invented, epic tales and historical events have been passed on through word of mouth. Some of these stories lived on for new generations to learn from.
Today, we acknowledge the greats in public speaking, from the legends of ancient times such as Demosthenes to figures that have made their marks in recent history like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Audiences from all over the country and the world attended Steve Job’s promotions not only because of the revolutionary technologies he introduced but also to witness the best presentations he gave. Jobs transformed technological unveiling into an art form that people dared not miss.
Yes, the greats could have just put their message into writing but they opted to make the best presentations. Reading engages readers who get immersed into the subject on their own. Oral presentations, on the other hand, results in a far more engaging interaction between the presenter and the audience.
A written document convinces the reader by presenting detailed evidence or findings but reading is a process that takes time. Meanwhile, an oral presentation instantly convinces an audience by way of actual delivery using speech, body language, visual aids, or personal interaction.
When done right, you can effectively convey the message of an entire book in one powerful presentation!
Oral Presentations in Daily Encounters
Oral presentations have become a part of our daily lives. News anchors on TV, school teachers, and the local salespeople all make presentations. These famous public speakers and people in our daily lives share a common goal: to deliver a message. There are either texts on screen or photos to help viewers visualize what news anchors are saying. Learners look at their books or references as they listen to teachers explain. A salesperson provides flyers detailing product information.
Whether or not you have a career in business or deal with customers, communication skills are necessary for regular information exchange. A study in 2000 suggests that our economic situation calls for new college graduates not only to be adept academically but also to be skilled in getting information, planning, critical thinking, and problem-solving. All these can be obtained by, among other methods, designing, preparing, and delivering oral presentations. These skills are not only required at work or for the sake of employability. They are also essential for reasoning and communication, and help improve social interactions or relationships.
Oral Presentations in the Classroom
In a college classroom setting, giving an oral presentation could also improve leadership skills especially in a group setup. The instructor acts as the facilitator while the students engage in discussions on their own to encourage independent thinking. As a result, presenters gain information on the subject matter and become more self-confident. But it is worth reiterating that an oral presentation is only beneficial when done right. When a presentation fails, the negative consequences extend to both the presenter and audience.
Remember, be confident.
A successful oral presentation, just like any other presentation, could be done successfully by proper planning and concept construction. There is a specific set of guidelines to ensure the presentation flows smoothly for the audience to be engaged from start to finish.
A presentation is divided into three parts: the Introduction, main body, and the conclusion. By following this set-up, you organize your thoughts properly and carry out the presentation well. Most importantly, you allow your audience to understand what you are trying to convey so they are prepared for a forum or discussion.
Here’s a clip to demonstrate what you should never do when presenting an idea in class and how you regain your composure and recover from a bad presentation:
Structuring the Best Presentation
This is where you greet your audience, introduce yourself, and set the tone. Begin with some common niceties and establish a connection with your audience. In this phase, you prepare the audience for what they ought to expect to take away from your presentation. They should know why you are there, and of course, why they should listen to what you have to say. First impressions last, right? Make sure you grab your audience’s attention with a catchy and engaging introduction.
This is where you present a detailed information to arrive at the point you wish to make. To avoid confusing your audience or getting them sidetracked, present statements or information that support your main message. Talk about your main points and support them with your subpoints, which vary depending on the complexity of your main message. Organize all of your information to provide a natural flow of ideas. Arrange them in a way that allows you to easily jump from one point to the next without mixing up the facts. Your sequence of ideas should be logical. So that you and your audience are on the same page, your main body should follow this structure:
A. Main point
B. Main point
This is where you wrap up your presentation. Summarize your main points and finally bring up your main message so they remember it. Invite them for a discussion and encourage them to ask questions to clarify or briefly connect the ideas to a related subject. And finally, this is where you tell them formally that you are done with the presentation and thank them for their time.
Things to Consider Before A Presentation
As previously mentioned, being an subject expert is not all there is to making the best presentation. You need transferable skills to successfully deliver one. A presentation gives you the opportunity to put those skills to the test. Acknowledge what you need to work on in terms of gathering information and conveying your message.
Identify your audience.
Deciding on the words to use and the depth of the information you will be presenting depend on many things. The type of audience is one of them. To analyze your audience, you need to ask yourself the right questions. Are they my colleagues? Will they be familiar with the jargons I will be using? What is their level of expertise in the subject matter? You should take these into account when crafting the main body of your presentation. You need to determine how detailed your discussion should be. In deciding to be serious or humorous, get to know your audience.
Set your goal.
In the process of creating your presentation and fully understanding your audience, be sure to determine your objective. Do you wish to inform your audience? Are you hoping to persuade them into making a decision? Are you teaching something to your audience? This is important in deciding how complex or simplified your presentation should be.
Set it all up.
Will you be presenting in a classroom with a few people fixing their eyes on you? Are you going to be on a massive stage in front of a mammoth crowd? Where your presentation will take place is critical to knowing how you will be presenting.
For one, there are gestures and voice levels to consider. The equipment you will be using will also depend on your setting. Typically, presentations require a microphone and a projector but you can be as creative as you are allowed to be in interactive presentations so you entice your audience to actively participate. Be aware of your limits: there’s only so much time allowed for a presentation. No audience member would want to sit and listen to you indefinitely.
Preparation is key! Nothing beats a well prepared presentation! If yours involves slideshows and you are starting from scratch, this Microsoft Windows PowerPoint video tutorial is all you need:
What About Visual Aids?
You are free to use practically anything as visual aids. Simple things like handmade charts, physical photos, or documents to deliver your main message will do the trick. You can also make a digital slideshow. Using physical objects works best for product presentations. For complex topics that words alone won’t do, use representations or models.
Remember that visual aids are mainly for the audience and not for you. Use them so they convey a clearer message without offending or making anyone uncomfortable. To be safe, use a few words to emphasize the main points and subpoints on your slideshow and explain them in details.
Ensure Effective Delivery
We’ve pointed out how an audience can be persuaded through delivery regardless of what you have to support your speech. Public speakers back then did not have LCD projectors or powerful microphones but they managed to influence entire communities. Their delivery was impactful enough to get everyone’s attention. How did they do that?
Here are two simple but important things you need to bear in mind:
Pay attention to what you wear.
You can definitely get started with improving your delivery by dressing up appropriately or presentably. Looks do matter and, in the case of you delivering a presentation, what you wear reflects your personality. Sometimes, it only takes one look from the audience to decide whether or not to “waste their time” on you.
Speak clearly and audibly.
Interact well with your audience. After all, they are there to listen to a person speak, not read a book in silence. Refrain from sounding monotonous so your listeners fully understand and process your message. Speak clearly and with conviction to emphasize your point. Don’t forget to maintain eye contact with them. When addressing your audience, always be professional.
Here is Matt Abrahams, an expert on interpersonal communication and presentation and professor at Stanford University – Graduate School of Business, giving helpful tips in public speaking.
All of us have ideas in mind. We also have the ability to speak up and share. It only takes one active step to get these ideas effectively across a room and beyond. Learn to communicate properly and with sincerity. Overcome your fear, panic, or anxiety. It’s no easy feat, that’s for sure, but if you are truly willing to make it work, you need to take these tips to heart and practice incessantly to perfect your skills. In no time, you can make the best presentation in class and in life!