Recently a manger called asking for advice on giving presentations. He indicated he was experienced, but needed some "polish". He knew his career depended on making a better impression on his audience.
Sound familiar? Presentation skills often can summarized by the four P's. The first P is passion. Choose a topic that is very important to you as the speaker, one that gets you enthusiastic and energized! If the topic is uninteresting, find some facet that is exciting to you and to the audience, or can be made to seem fascinating. If the topic is uninteresting to you, you will lose your audience.
Preparation is the second P. Learn more about the topic than you will need to use. Discover answers to questions the audience may have, the current research on the field, and the possible future for it. Find relevant statistics and interesting facts or true stories about it as well, and weave them into the presentation.
Prepare also by writing your key words on large note cards. Number the note cards and clip them securely together. High-light the words in different colors, so that they are easily visible.
Polish the speech. Add some powerful words, especially in the beginning and end. Powerful words leap out at you and seize your attention. They may be short, but they are less commonly used. Study the headlines in the sports section of many newspapers for examples. Which words do you really notice? These words with "zing" can be found anywhere, and are wonderful to collect in advance!
Practice the speech numerous times, to colleagues, your family and friends and even to empty chairs if needed! Practice speaking into a tape recorder, recording a CD, DVD or videocassette. Listen and view yourself if possible. Note distracting behaviors such as fidgeting, smacking your lips or tilting your head.
With passion, preparation, polish and practice, your next speech can be a winner!