How often have you sat and watched a presenter/facilitator and wished you could be so great in front of tens to hundreds of people. After standing up in front of groups for the past 23 years of my life, I still think that. It’s not wrong to think that way. In sports, they teach you to practice with someone better than yourself. It’s the only way you’ll get better. So let’s talk a bit about being a great presenter.
I’ve heard it before, and I’ll hear it again. “Your job is so easy. You just get up in front of people and speak”. Of course, I just get up in front of people and start speaking, with no preparation, no planning, no research, no content development, nothing. And of course, that is not true. On the short side, research shows you will spend 10 hours; on the long side 60, for every one hour of presenting time!
You may be wondering what presenters need to do. First, it’s understating the audience. A good presenter never walks into a session with no information. You have to understand why the audience is there. What’s the WIFFM (what’s in it for me) for each person in each seat? Then, it’s time to research content. The 10-60 hours I mentioned. That’s a big range, but this is also a small blog post. You need to figure out what research supports the points of your presentation. Oh yeah, you have to figure out what those points are too. Then you’ll have to create content. PowerPoint is easy to use, and also very easy to overuse. Do your homework on trends in PowerPoint to ensure you have a clean deck that is within current trends. Once you have all your content, you’ll need to practice. A lot. In front of a mirror, a camera, your spouse, or your dog. Anyone who will listen. The more you practice the more polished you become.
And now it’s getting closer to the big day. Logistics. Don’t forget about logistics. Where is the presentation and what time? Do you have handouts? Will your laptop fit with the technology in the room? Do you have a room? How big or small is it? Oops, the room is too big for some of your content on the PowerPoint so you might have to re-do some of that. Do you have control of the temperature in the room? Will the air conditioning be blowing on a 40-degree day? These are all things that great speakers think about.
Finally, the day has arrived. Butterflies flutter around your stomach. My way of dealing with it is planning my open. I typically know the first three minutes inside out and am ready to go. I also get in as early as I can. It gives me time to work with all the things that can and will go wrong, time to unwind a bit, get a cup of coffee, listen to some music, and maybe even meet some early bird audience members. Then it’s off. If you have prepared and you have a passion for your topic, your credibility will show through and people will be thinking about how they can be a great presenter like you.