Presentations containing material of interest to your fellow employees your boss/es, and/or company shareholders carry with them a significant amount of weight. Yet if you spend some time planning, it’s feasible to give a solid speech for any corporate crowd even if you consider yourself to be a novice at public speaking.
Follow these straightforward (but effective) steps to ensure that your work presentation wins you kudos on the job:
1. Ask a Multitude of QuestionsAs soon as someone requests that you make a speech, begin to ask questions about it, including:
- What is the topic of the speech?
- Who will be in the audience?
- What time of day will I be presenting?
- Where will I be presenting?
- Am I the only presenter on the agenda?
- How much time do I have to give my presentation?
- Will any persons not associated with the company (e.g., media, clients) be present?
2. Engage in ResearchOnce you’ve gathered basic information about your speech, it’s time to do some investigative work, especially if the topic area is one with which you’re unfamiliar. Use the Internet, your co-workers, other departments—any resources possible, really—to ensure that you have accurate data to include in your presentation.
Though this step seems rather easy, don’t wait until the last minute. You’ll put undue pressure on yourself and others if you procrastinate.
3. Write Your PresentationIf you’ve never given a speech before, you can use the following outline as an uncomplicated (but effectual) starting point:
- I. Introduction
- II. Supporting Point #1
- III. Supporting Point #2
- IV. Supporting Point #3
- V. Conclusion
- VI. Question/Answer Session (if appropriate)
For example, if you’ve been asked to talk about fourth quarter sales initiatives, you can begin your speech (Roman numeral I, above) by providing your audience with an overview of the relevant sales plans.
From there, you can delve into details (such as implementation, price structure, revenue, et cetera) during the body of your speech (II, III, and IV). Finally, you might wrap up your talk by showing the impact each of the sales initiatives made as a whole on the business’s bottom line (V).
4. Practice Your PresentationRegrettably, this is an area where many presenters spend far too little time and effort. Don’t allow yourself to “wing it” on the day of your speech; instead, plan on practicing your presentation. (A good rule of thumb is to practice for at least 3-5 hours for every hour of “stage time”.)
You can rehearse aloud in the privacy of your home, or you can practice in front of a trusted colleague, friend, or family member. If you’re able to rehearse your speech in the room where you’ll actually give it, so much the better.
5. Prepare Your Handouts and OverheadsIn today’s technological age, many presenters rely heavily on PowerPoint to add pizzazz to their speeches. But don’t be fooled—a poorly prepared talk cannot be made stronger by the use of fancy visuals.
If you want to create handouts and projected images, do so sparingly and only if you feel it’s absolutely necessary to emphasize points or provide audience members with information they’ll need later.
6. Get to the Meeting EarlyNever be late for a presentation; doing so will only cause internal chaos and potential disaster.
Arrive at least 15-30 minutes before your speech and check the microphone (if you’ll be using it), overhead projector (if you need it), and similar items. If the room seems overly hot or cold, address that, too. (An uncomfortable crowd is a presenter’s nightmare; they’ll be unable to listen to you and will remember your speech negatively, even if you were outstanding.)
7. Start on Time and Stay on TrackIf your presentation is set for 1:00 p.m., make sure you start your talk as close to that time as possible (unless someone else is presenting before you and you are forced to wait.)Keep a watch in front of you and an eye on the clock to ensure that you’re not eating up too much time on one subject or racing through your presentation out of nervousness. If you’re feeling jumpy, try to regulate your voice and rest shaking hands on a desk, podium, table, or chair.
8. End on a Definite NoteNever spend a long time meandering through the end of your speech; instead, have an ending sentence or statement prepared and stop talking when you’re finished. Alternatively, if you’re engaging listeners in a question/answer session, you can always move right into that give-and-take forum and forgo a conventional “conclusion.”
Take charge of the entire work presentation process, and you’ll be much more likely to hear, “Good job,” from your supervisor (and possibly audience members) at the conclusion of your talk.