Presentations, with extra spice

When I started at Robert Morris University, I soon realized how many presentations I was going to be giving. I remember being  a freshman, scared out of my mind at the mere thought of getting up in front of my fellow students and giving a speech or presentation.  My first semester in college really stretched me to my presentation limits. I learned how to effectively make and present a Powerpoint, and the different types of speeches as well.  I may have learned a lot, but I know there was still more I could learn about public speaking and presenting.

On Sunday I attended Spice Up Your Presentation Skills, which was hosted by Joseph V. Trahan III, who is the President and CEO of Trahan & Associates. He began his presentation with telling us that it is important to know the 3 p’s of your audience: the people, the purpose, and their passion. To make a speech powerful, you have to know your audience, the situation, and the location and time.  Even if your speech is powerful, that doesn’t guarantee that people will listen to you. It is your job as the presenter to motivate the audience to listen to you. Once you have motivated them, you must maintain that motivation.

Once you’ve established the motivation, clearly state the purpose of your presentation. Address this with power.  Trahan reminded us that it is essential that we are organized. He found that it is helpful to clearly review the main points. He said that he will tell stories with your main points to engage the audience. He encouraged us to localize, personalize and make the presentation conversational. This means eliminating jargon. If your audience can’t clearly and effectively understand what you’re talking about, they are not going to pay attention.

Throughout the presentation, address with power and confidence. Provide valid supporting evidence to back up statements and claims that you make. Focus and make contact with your audience. He said “when you break eye contact, you lose.” This statement is so true. If you are reading off of notecards when you present, it conveys that you are nervous and inexperienced. He reminded us to get comfortable with being nervous. Experience reduces nervousness.

Make movements with a purpose and include natural gestures. No one likes to listen to a monotone speaker; vary your pitch, volume and rate to keep the audience engaged. When you bring your presentation to a close, conclude with a quick summary and a strong closing statement.

While all of this information has probably been heard before, it is always a great reminder. In any profession, you’re bound to have to make a presentation at some point.