Master Effective Formal Presentations [Comprehensive Guide]

Master Effective Formal Presentations [Comprehensive Guide]

You can use your experience in writing formal reports in preparing a major speech or presentation. However, one important difference is that you need to make it speakable. This has both advantages and disadvantages.

On the positive side is the opportunity to interact with the audience directly, resulting in the ability to get and give information from and to the audience on the spot. This allows you to revise your content and style, adding to the lucidity and appeal of your speech.

But this interaction might take away the best part of control from you as you are required to be flexible in your discussion.

The reason is that new questions are thrown up, leading you away from your subject and purpose. In order to overcome such problems, you might be required to use your personal charisma and some techniques to hold the attention and interest of your audience.

Let your audience not go to sleep or get away from the session. In developing a formal speech or presentation, you might fruitfully use the following structure of composition: (1) introduction, (2) body, and (3) close.

In the course of the presentation, however, the presenter might use visual aids and offer to answer questions from the audience.

The Introduction

An introduction to your speech is very important and should be carefully prepared because it draws your audience to your subject, creates their confidence in you, and previews the content of the speech.

Besides introducing the subject, you need to arouse the audience’s interest in your topic, establish your acceptability to your audience, and get them ready for what is to come during the speech. Your introduction accomplishes these tasks at the beginning.

Generating the audience’s interest

To begin with, your aim should be to arouse interest in your audience, and this can be done if you start by telling them how the subject is related to their interests.

Before choosing your subject, you would do well to consider who your audience will be. In other words, the subject must suit your audience in the first place. If the subject is crucial for your audience, such as their job, salary raises, increments, and so on, they will listen to you however you begin your speech.

But you should appeal to their human nature if they are uninterested in your topic. You need to use a tone appropriate to the topic and the occasion.

If the occasion is light, use a humorous tone. In the case of serious occasions and topics, such as addressing business seminars, symposiums, and the like, the tone of your address should be appropriately weighty, and you’d better avoid personal stories and anecdotes.

It’s wise not to be too theatrical because it might create a negative feeling towards you among the audience. It is advisable to remain natural and modest during the speech.

Make yourself acceptable

The first few moments are crucial because the audience decides during that time whether to listen to you or not. The advice is to establish your acceptability to your audience as quickly as possible.

A great deal of your message’s credibility depends on whether or not you’ve been able to win your audience’s confidence. If your audience likes you as a person, they’ll also like your views. If your audience already knows you, you’ll have little problem in getting them to accept you.

If the audience does not know you, you might find it challenging. It is easy to communicate with a known, unprejudiced audience, but it is difficult to persuade a doubtful, resistant audience. In this case, the situation might be eased by introducing yourself or having someone else introduce you, which might make your credentials less obtrusive.

If you are your own introducer, be careful not to be overly proud, but do not hesitate to mention your real qualifications because those qualifications would help your audience have confidence in you.

Maintain eye contact with the listeners

This will help the speaker to understand the attitudes and feelings of the audience about himself and his speech.

Presentation preview

You can establish your authority by previewing what is to come during your presentation. The introduction should give the main ideas in a nutshell and mention the key points in the order they will appear. Having done so, you can move into the body of the presentation.

The Body

The body of the presentation requires that the structure of your speech or presentation becomes easily understandable and that your organization captivates your audience’s interest. This will necessitate clear language, use of fewer abstractions, concrete words, sentence varieties, pauses for

queries from the audience, variation of tone, and gestures that accompany spoken language. Do not forget that you are talking rather than writing, so your speech or oral presentation will use all the elements of speaking.

The Ending

While closing your speech or presentation, remember to highlight the main points, remind the audience of the action to be taken, and close on a positive note.

This part of your speech is usually emotional and appealing because these words would be the ones that the audience would carry home and remember the most. So, the words should not only be emotional but also hold the essence of your purpose.

The Question-Answer Session

When you come to the question-and-answer session, this can be handled in two ways. If your audience has varied opinions and is large, it is better to have the session at the end of the presentation.

But if it is more or less homogeneous and small, you might allow yourself to be interrupted with questions from the floor as you speak along. During the question-and-answer session, do not raise controversial issues that might distract from the main issues of your delivery.

Besides, it is important for you to be watchful that no single questioner occupies most of the time.

It might be interesting and more impressive if you could support your arguments whenever and wherever necessary with visuals such as graphs, pictorial illustrations, and so on. In this case, you could use PowerPoint. But again, do not allow this electrical gadget to replace your verbal delivery.

How to be an Effective Speaker

The foregoing review of business speaking is selective, for the subject is broad. But this review has covered the high points, especially those that you can easily transfer into practice. Perhaps even more practical is the following list of what to do and not to do in speaking.

  1. Organize the speech so that it leads the listener’s thoughts logically to the conclusion.
  2. Move surely and quickly to the conclusion. Do not repeat unnecessarily or appear unable to close.
  3. Use the language specifically adapted to the audience.
  4. Articulate clearly, pleasantly, and with proper emphasis. Avoid mumbling and overuse of “ah,” “er,” “uh,” and so forth.
  5. Speak correctly, using accepted grammar and pronunciation.
  6. Maintain an attitude of alertness, displaying appropriate enthusiasm and confidence.
  7. Employ body language to the best advantage. Use it to emphasize points and to assist in communicating concepts and ideas.
  8. Avoid stiff body actions.
  9. Look at your listeners in the eyes and talk directly to them.
  10. Avoid excessive movements and other signs of nervousness.
  11. Punctuate the presentation with reference to visual aids. Make them a part of the report story.
  12. Even when faced with unfair opposition, keep your temper. To lose your temper is to lose control of the presentation.