Friday, July 25, 2008

The Four Ss Of Presentations

Writen by Terry Hadaway

Have you ever been to a presentation that you thought would never end? It seems as if some people have mastered the art of saying very little in a long time. It's those people who seem to keep popping up in high-profile situations in which you and I are members of the audience. It's time to get some things straight about presentations!

Let's face it... life is one huge presentation! When you go for a job interview, you are making a presentation. When you state your opinion in a gathering of friends, you are making a presentation. For some reason, there is a lot of anxiety about standing up in front of a group of people and talking. Let's take a look at four things that can make your presentations better... the Four S's of Presentations.

1. Stand up! This isn't just a reference to your posture, though your posture does count for something. The real issue here is confidence. When you have something to present, say it as if you believe what you're saying. You wouldn't buy a car from a salesperson who doubted the quality of the vehicle, so why would anyone buy what you have to say if you say it with an underlying apology? If you can't speak with confidence about the subject, change subjects!

2. Speak up! This refers to your diction and voice inflection. Speak clearly using words that can be easily understood by the audience. Some presenters attempt to impress their audiences by using words that aren't part of everyday conversation. There's no need to complicate the simple things! Say what you have to say using the lowest common denominator. If you sprinkle your presentation with 8-syllable words that are intended to impress people, you might discover they stopped listening long before you made your main point! Also take into consideration the room size and acoustics. If the room is hollow, you will need to slow your speech so as to accommodate the echoes in the room. Finally, speak more deliberately than normal. People need time to process what you say, so slow down.

3. Shut up! When you're done, stop talking! Plan the conclusion to your presentation as carefully as you plan the opening. The last thing you say will be the last thing in the minds of the audience members. Be methodical in your presentation. It is better to make two points that are understood than five points that are confusing. If you know your material, it will be easier to ad lib details. Yet, if you begin to ad lib, you will be pushed for time at the end. A well-planned presentation is more effective than a random conversation!

4. Sit down! If you are one of many presenters, it is important that you show the same respect to the others as you expect from them. If you have been assigned five minutes for your presentation, then use five minutes! Don't ramble on infringing on the time of the presenters who come after you. If there are additional presenters after you, join the audience and listen. Not only will you learn something about the topics being discussed, but you will learn some additional strategies for making powerful presentations.

Remember, you don't have to tell everything you know in the five minutes you have been given. When your presentation is over, do you want your audience to wish you had told them more or be relieved that you finally stopped talking? Think about it!

Dr. Terry Hadaway is an author, motivational speaker, university professor, and conference leader who is recognized as a leading authority on elearning, decision-making, and adult education. For more Tools for Life, visit and enroll in the elearning course entitled Goof-proof Presentations!

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