How you present yourself and the way you speak can determine success or failure when presenting in front of a group of people.
Follow these general guidelines when speaking in front of an audience. 1. Practice your speech ahead of time. This doesn't mean that you should briefly go over what you want to say a couple of times, it means that you review what you are going to say until you know it well. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be talking in front of a group of people. You always want to convey to your audience that you are confident and knowledgeable about your topic. If you usually are very nervous speaking in front of an audience, you can prepare an outline that can be used as notes. Although you may occasionally glance at your notes during your speech, the majority of your time should be spent looking directly at your audience. If you are spending more than half of your time looking at your notes, then your speech will not be as effective.
2. Look at your audience, so that you focus on each individual in the room briefly. Let your eyes go from one person to another around the room several times during your speech. This lets each person know that you are speaking to them, and that they are important to you. In the case of a very large audience, looking at each individual may not be possible. Let your eyes glance to as many people as you can in the room.
3. Adjust your speaking volume so that you are speaking to the person furthest from you, taking into consideration any background noise that might interfere with your ability to be heard. By doing this, you are making sure that everyone in the room can hear you. If there are only 5 people in the room, you will be speaking much more quietly than if there were 20. Also, if you want to make sure everyone in the audience can hear you properly, you can ask them if you are speaking loudly enough for the people in the back of the room to hear you.
4. Speak slowly. When giving a speech, speaking slowly allows your audience the time they need to process what you are saying. It also increases your ability to pronounce sounds more clearly and to be better understood. Remember that speaking more slowly is always better than speaking too quickly. If you speak too quickly, then it is a guarantee that your audience will miss some of what you say. They may need to ask for repetitions, or they may even let it go and never grasp your message. This is something you never want to have happen. We always want to make sure that we convey our message as clearly as possible
5. Pause after making important points. Pausing gives your audience time to process new information and make sense of it. It also gives them time to ask questions, if there is something they don't understand, if they need clarifications, or if they want to know more.
6. Be energetic and enthusiastic about the information you are presenting. If you are enthusiastic about what you have to say, then so will your audience! The worst thing is to make the audience think that you are not interested in what you have to say. If you aren't interested, then why should they be?
7. Stress important words and points to convey their importance. The more you stress important words, the more interested your audience will be in what you have to say. Using an exaggerated up and down pitch on important words makes your audience's ears perk up and keeps their attention more effectively. The opposite is also true: if you speak with a relatively flat pitch, then your audience will think you are not passionate about what you say, resulting in less attention and wandering thoughts on their part.
8. Direct your voice to various parts of the room. In addition to speaking at the right volume, it is important that your voice reach places in the room and is not always directed in the exact same place.
9. Follow these general guidelines when breaking down your presentation:
The introduction or opening should be no more than 10-20% of your total presentation time. This means that if you are going to speak for 10 minutes, your introduction should last no longer than 1-2 minutes.
The body or the main part of your presentation should last about 65-75% of your total presentation time. This is the section where you give your facts, present your findings, and explain your topic in detail. If your presentation is going to last 10 minutes, then spend roughly 6-7 minutes on this section.
The summary or closing should be between 10-20% of the total presentation time. For a 10 minute presentation you will spend roughly 1-2 minutes in closing.
10. Don’t apologize if things go wrong with your equipment. High tech is great, but only when it works, and everyone understands this. You should always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
11. Learn to laugh at yourself. If we can't laugh at ourselves when something doesn't go exactly as planned or if we do something stupid, then who can? Try not to be too serious. As the famous quote goes, "Don't sweat the petty things."
12. Remember thatyour audience wants you to succeed. No one ever goes to listen to a speech and hopes that the speaker does an awful job; everyone wants you to be an effective speaker. Your audience is usually there to hear you speak because they are interested in what you have to say. Even if they are only there because it is mandatory for work, they still go with the hope that they can learn something and that your presentation will go well.
13. You only get one chanceto make a first and last impression. It is said that people form a first impression of us during the first 15 seconds of your speech. Therefore, your introduction of your presentation is very important. In general, people tend to remember what we say first and what we say last.
What this means is that your introduction and summary are very important parts of your presentation. The introduction sets the tone for the talk, while the summary leaves your audience with an overall impression of how well you are able to convey your message. These are the parts that your audience will remember most. In general, people tend to remember what we say first and what we say last. The details in the middle can be somewhat fuzzy because no one listens to everything we say.