Public Speaking and Presentations FAQ’s
First Published: 22/6/10
Last Update: 08/09/12
Author: Doug Weller
Q How long is too long for a presentation?
A Research has shown that the average participant begins to lose concentration after seven minutes. Keep your presentation short and sharp, ask questions and wait for the audience to answer. Use props that illustrate your topic.
Q Should I personalise my presentation?
A Yes. Understand your audience. Make sure the presentation is relevant. While you are preparing your presentation you should be asking yourself “Who is my audience” “What is my objective”. Customising the presentation, or making it personal for the audience, reinforces their learning. You want to audience to hear your presentation, but also learn from it and retain the information you have imparted.
A It is essential you get this right. Stick to your allotted time. Make sure you have timed your presentation beforehand to ensure you don’t go over time. If you go over time you may be asked to finish before you are ready. If you go under time people may feel short-changed.
Q What if I am nervous?
A Many people have a fear of public speaking. Extra preparation here is essential to overcome nerves. Take the heat off yourself by involving the audience early. Short video clips, overheads or a computer presentation can take the focus off you at any time. Take deep breaths before you speak and don’t rush – the audience isn’t going anywhere. Speak Slowly. Don’t be concerned if you make a mistake or trip over a word, just keep going like nothing happened. Rehearse!!
Q Can I pause during my presentation?
A Yes. This is not only a very effective way of getting audience attention it also allows you to gather your thoughts. What seems like a long pause for you, will probably only be very brief.
Q Where do I look during the presentation?
A Try to make eye contact with as many as people as possible, but don’t get distracted by your audience.
Q Equipment and venue?
A Don’t sabotage yourself by being unaware of the type of equipment you will be using during your presentation. Arrive early and become familiar with all the equipment, layout of the room and presentation areas. Inform the AV staff of your requirements. If possible, do a rehearsal at the venue.
Q What do I wear?
A You want people to take notice of your presentation, not your outfit. Wear plain but professional clothes. Very bright colours or unusual bright patterns can distract participants.
Q What apparel should I avoid?
A You should avoid heavy bulky jackets, large scarfs or wraps and materials that allow light to shine through. Avoid anything too low cut, distracting or untidy. Avoid big and bulky pieces of jewellery.
Q How do I finish off?
A Recap. Make sure everyone hears your main points again. “Let me finish on this very important note…” Or “In summary, the three things I’d like you to remember from today are…”
Q Should I stay at the end of my presentation?
A Yes. Those who really enjoyed your presentation may want to chat afterwards. These are the people who were really impressed with you and what you had to say. They may need to ask more questions. Make sure you have time to stay and chat to these people after your presentation.
Q Should I hand out a copy of my presentation afterwards?
A Yes. But keep your notes concise, no waffling. If possible, retain some of the detail from your presentation and ad-lib, so people will listen to you, rather than read your presentation while you are speaking.
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