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4 tips to perfecting presentations

By Heather M. Hilliard

50856391_s.jpgWhy reading from notecards is not in your best interest

Anyone who has made a presentation or spoken in front of a large group knows how nerve-wracking it can be. So, wouldn’t it make sense to prepare notecards before your speech to be certain it goes smoothly? In a word, no. In today’s world of TED Talks and teleprompters, using notecards or any other type of hand-held script will make you appear woefully unprepared. And if your spokesperson or company executive appears unprepared in front of an audience, well, that’s bad for everyone. Fail to prepare properly for a presentation and you may even unwittingly end your career.

To be effective as a spokesperson, you must connect with the audience. It’s difficult to gain trust and confidence from your audience if you’re reading from notecards. The audience uses eye contact and body language as indicators of a person’s trustworthiness. If you’re reading from notes, you will miss that opportunity to engage and gain credibility.

Of course, without the crutch of notecards, you will have to devote a great amount of time to preparing and practicing. Here are four tips to remember to deliver a professional, polished presentation.

  1. You only have one chance at the best first impression.

It takes less than one second for your audience to pigeonhole you. They will form an opinion about your character and likeability in the blink of an eye. Therefore, it’s vital that you appear relaxed and exude confidence and poise from the very beginning.

  1. The picture you paint says a thousand words.

If you are reading from notecards, it will paint your picture as an executive who needs to be told what to say by those who know more. Sometimes, even reading from a teleprompter paints the same picture. It’s better to learn your speech thoroughly so you can own it as you deliver it.

  1. The audience decides if you are speaking to them or connecting with them.

Warmth and strength are the two most influential personality traits that people use to evaluate others. The trick is to show warmth first, in order to connect, and then strength – to show leadership and gain your audience’s confidence.

  1. By the end of your speech, the audience’s perception – of you and your company – is established.

Perceptions and visual impressions rank higher than facts, creating either a positive or negative belief about an entire brand; it’s the foundation of consumer behavior that will make or break you. Arthur Ashe once said, “Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory.” No matter what happens, you should always remain composed and confident. Your audience will remember your demeanor as much as anything you said.

Axia Public Relations offers spokesperson training sessions for CEOs, other C-suite executives, spokespeople and subject matter experts. We can help you create a powerful presentation and ensure you are prepared to deliver it effectively. To learn more, contact us today or watch our media and spokesperson training webinar for professional tips.

Spokesperson Training Webinar

HHilliard_2014_Head_Shot.jpgHeather M. Hilliard is a marketing and strategic planning professional with expertise in crisis management communications. With two master’s degrees and her international Certified Emergency Manager credential, she has worked through disasters as well as “normal business” to offset the impact of both large- and small-scale events in a variety of industries. She is an adjunct professor at Tulane University and has worked for Axia Public Relations since December 2015. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.




Featured image credit: 123rf.com

Topics: public relations, spokesperson training

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