In the first part of the post, we focused on your personal delivery. Those are the first things your audience will perceive, but not the only ones. You can be a good speaker with a fascinating performance, but the presentation won’t be successful without a good message.
Your goal when giving a presentation is to send a message. Now that you’re sure you can keep people interested in you, let’s take a look at your message. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes to be more objective in your evaluation. These are the points that make your message a good one:
- Interesting beginning – You want to catch the audience’s attention right away. Would you pay attention to a speech beginning the way you did?
- Filler words – It isn’t easy to notice those at the same time you’re speaking. While watching your video, look for them, and think of alternatives to those moments. Yet, keep in mind that a couple of filler words in a 30 minutes speech is not the end of the world. Be tolerant with yourself.
- Easy to understand – Is your message easy to understand? What could be improved to make it more clear? How many main points do you have? Are they obvious? How do you make the transition from one to another? Look for different ways to say the same thing to ensure everyone understands. If your message isn’t understandable, all your work has been in vain. Take your time to analyze this point.
- Examples and stories – Avoid the impulse of dumping data on your audience. Find practical examples, tell stories. Check if you have a relevant and understandable story to each main point. The story doesn’t need to be something that happened to you. You can tell something another person told you. Just don’t lie or make up stories. That will generate trust issues if you get caught.
- Rhetorical questions – Speakers sometimes do not realize how important they are, but they help keep your audience’s attention. They make them think, keep them occupied. Check if you ask a rhetorical question from time to time to take them out of the numbness a long exposition can put them in.
- Why is this important for your audience? – You’re giving a great speech, but why should they care about it? You must give them a reason. Why is this important for THEM? Also, make sure to introduce a call for action in your speech. It raises commitment.
- Strong ending – Don’t end by saying goodbye. End your presentation with a message. Prepare a strong statement that leaves your audience thinking about it.
Slides and other visual aids also need some attention. You may not use them, especially if you’re giving a small presentation, but if you do, make sure they improve your performance, not the opposite.
First of all, look at your slides outside the training session. Are they simple, or do they have excessive or difficult to read data? How is this data presented? Are your slides full of text, or do they have images? Are they relevant to what you’re saying? Remember that the slides should be there to help the audience, not to help yourself. If you’re having second thoughts about a slide being good enough, take it out. Useless or confusing slides are worst than no slides at all.
Once you sorted out the slides that should stay, it is time to see how you perform with them. Let’s go back to our video and analyze some points.
How did you deal with your tech devices? Were you stuck at some point? Did you lose time with it? You must know your tools, including solving problems when something goes wrong. If you don’t, better not to use them.
Are you ignoring the audience? Are you looking at the projection instead of them? If you answer ‘yes’ to one of these questions, you have a problem. If you ignore your audience, they tend to ignore you too. So keep training until you’re comfortable enough to face them instead of your slides. The audience is the priority.
Don’t forget to use a blank screen when you want the audience to pay attention to you. Use it in key moments. It will make them pay attention.
Was it boring?
The worst that can happen during a presentation is for you to be boring. This is one of the things we’re trying to avoid with all this training.
It isn’t easy to be objective on this point. How do I know if I was boring? Let me ask you: were you bored watching yourself? Most of us don’t like to watch ourselves on camera, but being bored is a different feeling. So, were you bored? If you were, your audience would be as well.
If you think your presentation was boring, look back at each point and find out what was missing. Then, try again.
For better performance: Train Smartly
Whether for training purposes or to evaluate your last presentation, analyzing it objectively is vital. Finding what you did right and what you could do differently is how you improve.
Training in front of the mirror may not lead you to the anxiety peaks you’ll have later, and it is much harder to analyze. You must be focused on presenting, and only later on analyzing your performance. You can’t do both at the same time.
Record your performance for a more accurate evaluation. If you train with Virtual Orator, use our recording features while you face an audience and take full advantage of your training.
If you’re a student or an educational institution, you may enjoy a discount on Virtual Orator.