For a final project, I gave a presentation in one of my communication classes. Sounds easy right, especially since it’s a communication class? Wrong.
My topic was “How Social Media Affects Listening in a Business.” I figured I’d go with social media since it is something I use every day, hoping that a familiar topic would make the presenting go smoother. I then decided that I wanted to use Prezi instead of PowerPoint, to spice things up a bit. I knew that many of my classmates weren’t familiar with the interactive presentation software. With this in mind, I was hoping that using Prezi would be a way to keep my audience engaged.
The topic alone would not work because most students feel they know everything there is to know about social media. (Which I proved in my presentation.) I started off by asking a few questions, determining who uses social media and why, what is social media, and if they follow businesses on the various platforms and why, to get them engaged and focused on the topic.
During the presentation, I watched as the audience took notes and seemed intrigued by the presentation itself. At the end of the presentation, there was a brief Q&A discussion.
Was I nervous while giving the presentation? Yes. My first concern was about making sure Prezi would work, since it was my first time. But it worked wonderfully! As the presentation went on, everything just flowed out because I knew my topic and had laid out what I wanted to say and discuss.
So, what’s my point in this story?
In order to give an effective presentation, there are a few key steps to take. This goes for a student giving a class presentation or a professional giving a business presentation. Keeping these elements in mind, a successful presentation will be given.
- Know your topic inside and out. By the time you get up in front of your audience, you must be comfortable talking about the topic and be able to answer any questions that may come your way. It is not a bad thing to have note cards or an outline in front of you while presenting.
- Know to whom you are presenting. Learn what intrigues the audience and use that to your advantage.
- Know your limits. Just because you think you are humorous doesn’t mean the audience thinks you’re humorous. Present in a way that you are most comfortable with, while still keeping it professional.
- Know the purpose of the presentation. What exactly is it that you are trying to do? Sell? Educate? Entertain? Keep this in mind while preparing.
- Use proper visuals. Handouts are an effective visual. Audience members can take notes and follow along. PowerPoints and videos also work effectively. People tend to remember visuals better than text. When using PowerPoint, Prezi, or other slideshow programs, keep it professional looking yet intriguing. Use your own design elements and themes. Be creative.
- PRACTICE! You may feel comfortable after just reading through your presentation, but that does not necessarily mean you are comfortable speaking it to an audience. So, practice the presentation out loud in front of mirror multiple times.
- Allow time for Q&A at the end of your presentation. This is the time when your audience can ask for clarification or provide their input on certain elements within the topic.