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Tips on How to Master a Presentation

By Joane Ramsey

Do you ramble on when giving a presentation? Is your audience unengaged? Does the audience remember the key take away of the presentation? In this video, Joane Ramsey and Bo Smith share strategies to master your presentation through clear intentions, memorable graphics, proper voice inflections, wow moments and putting in the practice.

Joane Ramsey: 00:01 Welcome Bo, it's good to have you here with me today.

Bo Smith: 00:12 Joanna, it's great to be back with you.

Joane Ramsey: 00:15 So, today we're going to be providing you with some tips on how to master a presentation. Bo, in your experience, we know that nothing beats thousands of hours of practice for being able to master delivery on an outstanding presentation. But we also know that to get there, we need the opportunities to present. I would like to discuss with you some tips for those professionals who are already comfortable giving presentations, but want to excel. Where do you think we should start?

Bo Smith: 00:43 Joanne, I think it goes without saying that how you communicate during a presentation is key. But the question is how do you master that? There are many ways you can go, but when it comes to presentations, my feeling is that knowing your intention upfront and having a strong understanding of that is critical to express your message in a clear and concise way. Reduce the clutter, less is more.

Joane Ramsey: 01:08 That is a great point. Some of the most memorable speeches and documents in history are among the shortest. The Gettysburg Address is 272 words. John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech was under 15 minutes. Another way to master a presentation is to limit the use of bullet points, and instead use more photos, videos and graphics. People tend to associate bullet points with being clear and concise, and there's no doubt that they have their place, but when we are working on communicating something important, a picture can deliver that message a lot faster. There's actually a name for this. Scientists call it pictorial superiority. As humans, our ability to remember pictures is one of our greatest strengths. Hear the information and three days later you will remember about 10%. At an image and you are most likely to remember 65% of that presentation and that is a big difference.

Bo Smith: 02:08 Joanne, that's a huge difference. You know, interestingly enough, another way to master a presentation is by enhancing our vocal delivery. There was a study conducted by a Wharton marketing professor, Jonah Berger, who demonstrated that speakers who vary the pace, pitch and volume of their voices are more effective. Let's stop and think about that for a second. Great speakers will raise their voice when emphasizing a key message or pause after delivering an important point. And we listen attentively when that happens because we anticipate something's coming. Simply put, if you raise or lower the volume of your voice and alternate between high pitch and low pitch while delivering key messages, your presentation will be more influential, persuasive and commanding. These are techniques I put to use in Toastmasters.

Joane Ramsey: 03:00 You are really good at doing that Bo. It is interesting how, in order to master our presentation, we really need to think of the psychology of being human. We know that people will not remember every slide that we work hard to put together or every word we speak. However, we know that they will remember moments in the presentation. So as a presenter, we really need to create that WOW moment that captures the essence of our presentation in a way that stays with our audience. Bill Gates created one of those moments in one of his presentations in 2009, when speaking on the efforts of how to reduce the spread of malaria. As he explained how malaria was transmitted, he proceeded to walk out to a table set up on the stage, open the lid from a jar containing non-infected mosquitoes and said, "Let's just let them roam around the auditorium for a moment." That really exemplifies a way to bring a WOW moment. It was totally unexpected. And instead of showing a standard PowerPoint slide, he provided the audience with an immersive experience that played on their emotions. People still talk about that presentation today.

Bo Smith: 04:13 What a great example. Finally, we can't forget to mention that great presenters rehearse and rehearse and rehearse. Most speakers don't practice nearly as much as they should. Sure, they review the slides ahead of time, but they neglect to put in the hours of deliberate practice that will make them shine when they deliver that presentation. It all comes back to what you talked about, those thousands of hours.

Joane Ramsey: 04:37 Isn't that true.

Bo Smith: 04:40 Consider Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His most famous speeches came after years of practice. And it was exactly this level of mastery that gave Dr. King the awareness and flexibility to pull off an advanced speaking technique –Improvising. Dr. King improvised the memorable section of what is now known as the dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. When he launched into, "I have a dream," the press there was confused. Those words weren't included in the official draft of the speech they'd been handed, but Dr. King read the mood of his audience and in the moment, combined words and ideas he'd made in previous speeches. It was his lifetime of speeches that allowed him to shine.

Joane Ramsey: 05:20 And we still talk about that speech today. So some of the key takeaways to help someone master a presentation are – have clear intentions, reduce the clutter. Here's a case where less is more. Make it memorable, complement text on slides with photos, videos, and graphics. Use your voice to make a positive impression on your audience. Create those WOW moments that will live for a long time. Put in the time to make yourself great – practice, practice, practice. Bo, thank you for being here with me today.

Bo Smith: 05:57 Joanne, thank you.

Joane Ramsey: 05:58 For additional content, follow us on LinkedIn and go to our website at StrategicEnhancement.com. Thanks for joining us.

Published: September 6, 2022

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Joane Ramsey

Senior Performance Improvement Consultant

A native of Brazil, Joane first came to the U.S. as a foreign exchange student with AFS. She returned to Brazil where she successfully ran and sold two different businesses. Returning to the US in 1992, Joane put her business ownership experience to work with a small manufacturing company running the day-to-day operations and facilitating sales with South American companies. She joined SEG in 1999, where her experience has helped her clients get the results they desired. Joane has a B.S. degree in business management from North Central College, where she majored in international business and Spanish.

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