As event professionals, we see hundreds of presentations, and hear from several presenters every year. Some that are great, many that are in need of help and a rare few that are brilliantly executed. Over the years, we have definitely cultivated knowledge on how to put together and execute a memorable and effective presentation. Below is just a small list of do’s and don’ts. Each one could easily be expanded into its own blog article, but for now, lets get you started on preparing your next AMAZING presentation:
1. DO rehearse! And rehearse some more. Test your presentations on trusted colleagues. Winging your presentation is NEVER a good idea. Don’t use your on stage rehearsal time to build your presentation. This should be done in advance so your time on stage is purely for rehearsing your material, getting used to the environment on stage, the lighting, the audio and monitors. Not to mention, there is a whole AV crew getting paid to be there to help you rehearse, not sit around while you’re just putting a presentation together.
2.DON’T pace! Don’t fidget. Don’t put your hands in your pockets or any other repetitive nervous habits. Do however move. It’s great to alternate between moving and standing. Try using the whole stage as a way to help connect with the entire audience. Know your body language and if need be, work with a speaker coach. Keep in mind, if you’re presenting at a conference that is using IMAG (which is where your image is projected on large screens, so the whole audience is able to see you), pacing can potentially make people motion sick if they’re watching you from the screens.
3. DO breathe! Being nervous is normal and can actually be a great thing. There are techniques you can learn to harness that nervous energy into a great and energetic presentation. But first, just breathe! A simple and effective tool is to spend the five minutes before you go on stage doing some breathing exercises. Find a quiet place backstage, and either standing or sitting (whatever allows you to relax) simply focus on your breath, how you are breathing, the flow in and out. Slowly begin to deepen your breath, breathing deeper into your belly (without forcing it). Try to allow this deeper breath to come slowly and organically. Once you feel you have a deeper breath, begin to slowly elongate the exhale. For example, if your inhale is four beats, then make your exhale six beats. Again, you don’t want to force this, as it is meant to create a relaxed feeling in your body. This is a great breathing exercise if your nervous tension is effecting you vocally.
4. DON’T have one of THOSE kinds of PowerPoint presentations! You know the one we mean! The one where the presenter has utilized every kind of transition, animation and effect. Where their over informed graphs and paragraphs of text can’t even be read by the front row. Too many fonts, bad design, every inch of slide is used, backgrounds that compete with messaging, too many sound effects, spelling mistakes, and on and on. Do you know what this called? Death by PowerPoint! Keep it simple! Use images that support your message. And if possible, have a professional designer clean it for you. This is truly one we could write an entire blog on….and maybe we just will!
5. DO trust your Audio Visual technical team! They are highly skilled professionals at what they do, just as you are at what you do. They’ve got your back and are invested in ensuring you give your best presentation. With that said, don’t tap your mic and say “is this mic on?” Your audio technician is following you. Speak clearly and project, so he can get the best audio level for you. If you’re not driving your presentation, have a plan with the technician operating your presentation. All the more reason why a proper rehearsal is so important.
6. DON’T just read! Be scripted, use speaker notes or a teleprompter but know your presentation so you don’t sound like a monotonous drone. Be conversational and relaxed. If you’re a fast speaker work on slowing down, take pauses. And PLEASE don’t read from your PowerPoint slides.
8. DON’T bore your audience! Engage your audience, smile and be authentic. If you’re not a funny person don’t use jokes. Stay away from irrelevant stories and don’t lecture the audience. Keep your presentation to the point. And most of all be confident…they are there to hear YOU!
There are more Dragonfly DO’S and DON’TS to come in the near future. If you have production or event topics you would like to see the DO’S and DON’TS for, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!