Feel secure and be professional when you present

Have you read our previous blog on the subject of orientation, explaining that your audience members need orientation and security before they can give you their full attention? Then you are already well informed about the ‘receiving end’. But what about you, the speaker? In order to give a good presentation, you too need security and orientation before you begin.

Testing, testing…

This seemingly light-hearted title introduces a very important point. If you want to make a confident impression, you need optimal conditions. At the top of the list: your equipment. This holds true whether you are speaking at a conference, presenting to a client, or standing in front of your own colleagues at an internal meeting. Don’t you just love it when a presentation is heralded with the words: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we’re very sorry, but there’s a problem with the speaker’s laptop… Our beamer has just given up the ghost… It appears that the software versions are not compatible…’? By the time you’ve finished troubleshooting, you’ve usually lost most of your audience.

Is it plugged in?

Your surroundings are one of the things you need to get under control. Ask yourself:

  • Where’s the beamer?
  • How do I operate it?
  • Is there a remote control, and does it work?
  • Is there a spare bulb to hand?
  • Is there a pointer? Do I need spare batteries?
  • Where am I going to stand? Can I see my slides without having to turn my back on the audience?
  • Do I have a glass of water? This is not just good for your voice, or useful in the event of a tickly cough. It’s also a great tactical prop in case you have a blank or need thinking time before answering a question. A smile and a self-assured sip of water gives you some breathing space.
  • Do I need a microphone? Will I have to hold it, or does it have a clip?
  • Can I move around freely?
  • What about a sound check? Nothing makes your audience wince more than the sudden screech of overloaded speakers.
  • Is the room lighting right? Or is the white font on the light background illegible, because the sun’s shining right on that part of the screen.

Belt and braces…

Is there a flip-chart or a whiteboard to hand, and marker pens (that work), in case you need to explain something or write up points made in the discussion? Do you have your presentation on a USB stick, in case there’s a problem with your laptop and you have to borrow someone else’s? Do you have the promised handouts ready and waiting? And everything else you plan to distribute? Or those cleverly chosen give-aways you were going to hand around as a closing gesture? It would be a pity to spoil the moment by having to rummage around for them in your briefcase.

Testing yourself to death

Of course, there’s no need to get carried away. But you could fill a book with all the situations, predictable and not so predictable, speakers have to cope with. You can probably recall a few episodes you’ve already experienced, as a speaker or audience member, and would rather forget. Prepare everything in a professional manner. Then convince your audience with your calm authority.


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