The difference between a powerful presentation and a pitiful one is usually a few, essential basics. The following five reminders must be part of every speech.
1. Audience awareness.
The better you know the people in the seats, the better your presentation will be. Too many speakers are self-centered. They design a message that sounds good only to them.
The audience-centered speaker provides what the people need. Information to help them grow. Motivation to aid them, that they desire to apply.
2. Positive preparation.
Do not prepare in fear. Forget worrying about the possibilities of what can go wrong. Instead, think about the positives. Note everything you can’t wait to share. Pinpoint the most powerful aspects of the speech and look forward to releasing them. The audience wants you to succeed. They cannot wait to hear a positive message from you.
3. Confident content.
Too often we draw our confidence from our delivery style. Listen, that’s overrated. Who cares if an audience is wowed by delivery if no content comes with it?
The less confident you are with your delivery the more critical it is that you are confident with your content. Know exactly the benefit the audience will receive from the information you share.
Great content never has a bad day. You never pick up and book and say, "This book is in a bad mood!" The content of the book remains the same regardless. Create content that is solid, regardless how "on" you feel any given day.
4. Test technology.
Check the microphones, laptop, etc. before the event. Inspect it with enough time to repair it if needed.
Last Wednesday, I spoke at a meeting, and we were not sure if my laptop would be compatible with the projection system. In the end we switched cables and all went well. But if I hadn’t been there forty-five minutes early it might have been an unforgettable presentation in the worst of ways.
5. Validate value.
This ties the previous four points together.
Value the audience. Remember that you are talking to people with fears but also with dreams.
Value preparation. Don’t try to wing it but don’t over prepare, thinking it will make you perfect.
Value content. Have a clear message that cannot be missed. Make it practical so it can be immediately applied.
Value technology. If PowerPoint strengthens the message use it; if it doesn’t then don’t. Only use technology that will enhance your presentation.
If you focus on the first four areas then the fifth -- validate value -- will be guaranteed. You will know what you are going to say, who you are saying it to, and why you are sharing it.