Making Memorable Presentations

When you make a presentation, there exists a fine line between too much information and too little, especially as it relates to technical information. Inundating your audience with technical information or complex jargon can result in problems with audiences losing interest or being unable to digest the data being presented.

Outstanding presenters and presentations cause the audience to relate to what is said and make any subject accessible and engaging, while at the same time working around the specifics of a presentation format. When preparing a presentation, consider the following:

1 – Explain Your Key Points and Structure

A good presentation should begin by outlining a few key points, as well as how you will be structuring the presentation. The conclusion should then briefly recap and emphasize your main points, in effect explaining what you have just spoken about. It may seem like an obvious approach, but inserting this structure will help to orient your audience.

2 – Rehearse

Significant amounts of rehearsal time will help you become comfortable with the format and material, along with the timing and appropriate emphasis. Without adequate rehearsal you will find it necessary to rely too heavily upon your notes and in the end you will appear as though you are reading.

During rehearsal, envision and predict the audience’s reaction and response to your comments and time your inflection and subject changes accordingly. Just as comedic timing is essential to a comedian’s success, dramatic and informational timing is important for presenters of all types.

3 – Know Your stagePodium with Sound and Clock

Never walk into an unfamiliar scene and present. Know the stage, the lighting, and the sound. Be sure that the lectern available has the reading light and other accoutrements you require, such as cup holder, drop down for your laptop, built in sound etc., and that it is the proper height. When using adjustable height lecterns either set your height in advance or when following another speaker be sure you know how the height adjustment feature works and the lectern height that is most comfortable for you.

Bottom line, there is no substitute for preparation and with it comes confidence!

Lectern – A Crutch or a Tool?

Some say that using a lectern when speaking is a crutch. It is, only if you make it so. A lectern should be an anchor, a place for notes, and a stable point of command. A lectern is not something to lean upon, nor is it a place to grip and expel your terror.

Your stance, your movements, and your dependence upon the lectern will be obvious to the audience. Your minimal indicators, or non-verbal communications, are as meaningful to the audience as what you say and very telling of your skill and comfort. They visually convey your message, which is significant because 50% of the people in your audience are visual learners.

What they see, they believe! If there is inconsistency in a presentation, the non-verbal messages take precedence over what the audience hears. If your actions and movements do not match your words and intent the message you deliver may not be anything close to what you intended.

A Presentation has Two Components:

    • Content – The message, what the speaker wants the audience to understand and take away.
    • Delivery – Presenting the message. The Parts of Delivery are:
      • Verbal Communication, speaking the words
      • Non-verbal Communication, almost everything else you do.

Non-verbal Communication falls into Two Categories:

    • Voluntary, those we do consciously.
    • Involuntary, those we do unconsciously.

The lectern as a crutch or a tool, the verbal message you intended, or the non-verbal message you delivered, the choice is yours!

Lectern or Podium, You Decide

Two of the most misused words in the English language are lectern or podium. Do you know the difference? When you present, you wish to be concise and accurate, right? Yet, very often we speak of standing behind the podium when what we should say is lectern.

It is very simple; you stand behind a lectern and stand on a podium. If you receive accolades and awards for your oratory prowess at a gala event you will make your acceptance speech from behind a lectern. If you win a gold, silver, or bronze medal at the Olympics you will stand on a podium when they hang the medal about your neck.

Lectern is derived from the Latin word lectus “to read” and podium comes from podia “a platform.” It is easy to remember; “lecture from a lectern.”

Always be the best you can possibly be and always use the correct word in the appropriate context. Presenting is not easy, and very often not natural. Good presenting requires practice and it always helps when we begin with the right words.