You’ve been asked to give a presentation, or speak to a group, but you don’t have the time to prepare! I’ll share the top 5 ways to prepare for a presentation when you’re in a rush. In the last year I’ve presented or trained more than I have in the last 10 years. I’ve learned so much while teaching, and I’ve narrowed down a couple great tips to help make it through crunch time.
It’s been said that to be truly prepared for a lesson, a speech, or a lecture, you need at least 9 hours of preparation time, for each hour of presentation. I know we all end up with last minute obligations, and we don’t always have the required time to prepare. Here are 5 ways to get the most out of your presentation no matter what the circumstances. Remember to slow things down, keep the audience involved, use notes if necessary, arrive as early as possible, and keep yourself animated. Good luck!
1. Take Your Time – Sometimes when we’re nervous, we get going a little too fast. Remember to slow things down. Monitor your breathing and speech. This will give you time to consider your words and topic more before words just fly out of your mouth. It also helps to avoid filler words such as “umm,” “uh,” “so,” “well,” etc. Slowing things down and being aware of your pace can allow you to be more accurate in your allotted speaking time frame, and even make you appear more confident!
2. Engage the Audience – Engaging the audience is a great way to add time to your presentation. If you’re ahead of schedule and need to slow it down, or a great way to give yourself a break, and organize your thoughts for the next section. Keeping the audience actively engaged also facilitates a better learning environment, and keeps the audience awake and excited. This is a great time to conduct quick surveys, identify “needs” if you’re selling something, and even learn some new facts or tips yourself!
Be careful not to engage yourself into a corner. Opening up to questions from the audience could put you in a position that you may not have the answer for, so use these techniques on a case by case basis. If you are engaging the audience, use names if possible, acknowledge the input (even if it may be wrong or incorrect), and thank them for participation.
3. Use a Cheat Sheet – Although you didn’t have time to write and edit a fully worded speech worthy of the Academy Awards, you can still organize your thoughts well enough in only 5 minutes. I prefer using an outline form to keep my subjects and thoughts as organized as possible. You will often have some location to set things, so use the table at the front of the room, a podium, or whatever is available. Tablets have teleprompter apps that can scroll your text if you’ve had more time to prepare. If you only have a small outline, write it on a piece of paper and post it somewhere that will keep your hands as free
4. Know Your Location – If at all possible, get to your speaking location early! Have a chance to walk the location, get familiar with any props, or available technology (white board, laser pointers, projectors, etc.). Also, showing up early will give you time to breathe, relax, and let you be in a position of power as your audience comes to see you, not the other way around. Also, if possible, make a quick list of any backup items you might need, and bring them with you. Batteries, pens, paper, notes, workbooks, etc. Remember to bring water just in case. Room temperature is better than cold or ice water when speaking.
5. Keep Moving – Remember to be animated! Use the whole stage from one side to the other, don’t just stand in one place. Also, pretend you’re Italian and speak with your hands! Use gestures to solidify the things you say. (However, if you have any Italian blood, as I do, you may have to use your hands LESS). Keep your eyes moving as well, don’t stare down at the floor, or up at the ceiling. Scan your audience in a slow and controled manner. If you’re uncomfortable making eye contact, look at the forehead.
Also, keep your voice moving. Use appropriate volume and intonation for each subject or section of your speech. You can speak slowly and softly, or louder and faster depending on the topic. Free to put a little EXTRA emphasis on some words to BREAK UP a monotone voice (see what I did there). Remember to smile, and be as comfortable as possible in the situation.
I hope you gained some instight, and some confidence before tackling your next presentation! If you have other ideas for a tips list, please comment and share. It is a pleasure to share the things I learn, and I look forward to sharing many more nuggets of knowledge with you in the future!
Go be great!
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