The workplace involves a great deal of communication, collaboration and content sharing. It stands to reason that, as you evolve in your career and leadership role, you will need to be comfortable presenting to a larger audience than those in your standard meeting environment.
Many of the same traits exhibited by successful leaders in work meetings will still apply, including being positive, participating and engaging, speaking clearly, and having outcomes and points to your talk. However, there are some fundamental tips to start you off on the right foot when speaking to a larger audience:
1 Be prepared to be isolated.
You have to work harder to connect with your audience. In a bigger forum you may be physically further away from your audience, such as on a stage or at a podium. Lights can make it difficult to see the full room, so tune in to audience noise such as laughter, comments and movement for engagement cues. Familiarise yourself with the space and depth of the room before you begin.
2 Don’t underestimate the importance of equipment.
Don’t leave anything to chance and always have a backup plan. Send your presentation to event organisers early so they can have it up and working before you arrive. Always get there early and check that your presentation is running as you expected. Ask about any elements of the room that may affect your presentation and equipment and keep them in mind. Look at the colours and font sizes used and check the volume of videos.
3 Prepare well and rehearse out loud.
You can only truly be ready to deliver a presentation if you have practised it in full out loud a few times. See where you stumble and ensure your key trigger words work. Remember you will not be reading but using trigger words to speak from the heart. Manage your timing and ensure you are not rushing or lagging. You should be able to deliver your presentation without reading your notes or constantly looking at the screen.
4 Manage your time well.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when delivering a presentation is mismanaging your time. This causes you to rush through sections or omit vital conclusions. Have timing markers throughout your presentation. Make use of body language, vocal intonation and some elements of humour or engagement to change the pace of your delivery. The most critical point is that people want to hear your view and content, so be certain of your core messages and deliver them well.
Delivering a good presentation is not much different to what a book or movie does – you need to keep your audience with you from the beginning right up until the end.