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Tips for Effective Presentations


1. Preparation and knowledge (of subject and the presentation itself) are the pre-requisites for a successful presentation, which importantly produce confidence and control, in turn important for relaxing the presenter, and the audience.

2. As a presenter, remember and apply Eleanor Roosevelt's maxim that "no-one can intimidate me without my permission". When you are a presenter you are in charge. The audience generally accepts this, and you are within your rights to control anyone who does not.

3. Remember also that "Depth of conviction counts more than height of logic, and enthusiasm is worth more than knowledge", (which is apparently attributed to David Peebles, about whom I have no further details - please let me know if you do). Passion is therefore a very powerful component in any successful presentation.

4. Good presenting is about entertaining as well as conveying information. As well, people retain more if they are enjoying themselves and feeling relaxed. So whatever your subject and audience, try to find ways to make the content and delivery enjoyable - even the most serious of occasions, and the driest of subjects, can be lifted to an enjoyable or even an amusing level one way or another with a little research, imagination, and humour/humor.

5. Enjoyment and humour are mostly in the preparation. These effects are not easily produced spontaneously. You don't need to be a natural stand-up comedian to inject enjoyment and humour into a presentation or talk. It's the content that enables it, which is very definitely within your control.

6. Research and studies generally indicate that in presentations you have between 4 - 7 seconds in which to make a positive impact and good opening impression, so make sure you have a good, strong, solid introduction, and rehearse it until it is 'second nature' to you and an action of 'unconscious competence'.

7. Try to build your own credibility in your introduction, and create a safe comfortable environment for your audience, which you will do quite naturally if you appear to be comfortable yourself.

8. Smiling helps a lot. It will relax you and the audience. In addition to giving you a relaxed calm appearance, smiling actually releases helpful 'happy' chemicals into your nervous system, and makes you feel good.

9. So does taking a few deep slow breaths make you feel relaxed - low down from the pit of your stomach - before you take to the stage.

10. Avoid starting with a joke unless you are supremely confident - jokes are high risk things at the best of times, let alone at the start of a presentation.