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Room and directions n Where is the room? n How do you want it set up? n Where is the venue? n How will you get there? n How long will it take you to get there? n Who is your contact and what are their contact details?

Date and time n What is the date and time of your talk?

n Can you access the room ahead of time to set up?

n How long do you have for your presentation?

Technological problems Your PowerPoint won’t work. At some stage, technology will fail you. Always be ready to do your presentation without any support. This is the sign of a primed presenter.


Handling questions and answers A Q&A gives the speaker a chance to interact with our audience, so prepare for it. Make a list of the questions you think you may get asked. Then write answers for each of them.

Some top tips: n Have people raise their hand to ask a question.

n Thank them for their question. n Repeat the question to ensure that you and others understand it. This also buys you time to think of a response.

n Keep your answer simple and link it back to the key message of your presentation.

n If you don’t know the answer, offer to find out. Never make it up.

n After your answer, ask ‘does that answer your question?’ Clarify if need be.

n If there are no questions, introduce one by saying ‘a question I’m often asked is…’

n Show interest and ask them some questions too.

Common worries and potential disasters. Presenting to people who know little

PAGE 16 | MAY 2011 | student focus A MAGAZINE FOR ABE STUDENTS

about your topic Focus on what they need to know. Avoid jargon, use clear examples and remember that stories are a great way to illustrate your point to lay-people. Be extra sure that your structure is clear.

Presenting to people who know a lot about your topic Stay calm. Even experts like to be reminded of things. It can be refreshing to hear someone else’s perspective. Experts will spot mistakes, so double check your information and materials. Make sure your presentation is polished; a confident delivery will show that you know your stuff.

Make a checklist Make sure you include these points on yours: n Materials n Presentation n Answers to Q&A n PowerPoint slides and handouts n Memory stick n Computer n Marker pens n Business cards.

Technology Check technological compatibility in advance. Book the room, flip chart, projector etc.

What if I forget what I want to say? The ‘brainfreeze’ is probably the number one fear when presenting. It can be helpful to remember that the audience doesn’t know what you are going to say. If you forget a bit or get it in the wrong order, don’t let that throw you. If you get stumped, repeating the last thing you have said, asking the audience a question or providing an example of what you have been talking about, can all help to get the brain to remember.

Final words After your presentation, take a few minutes to reflect on how it went. Ask yourself what you did well and what you could improve on next time. With know-how and practice, these seven steps will help you to present your information and yourself in the best light. And who knows you may even start to look forward to giving your next presentation.

Jennifer MacKay trains, speaks and writes on communication skills. UK based, she has worked in Europe and the Middle East.

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