The rights words spoken at the right time can move mountains. Public speaking is an art and skill that can determine business success or failure. However, many studies show that it is often one of people’s greatest fears and sources of anxiety. Executive coaches and seminars can help leaders become more effective public speakers, but much of the anxiety can be reduced by simply being more organized and prepared. The four tactics below will make you feel more in control and better positioned to make a positive and lasting impact on your audience.
Whether preparing for a presentation in-person or via some form of media, we recommend you leverage this four-part “presentation checklist” – two sections deal with presentation content, whereas two concern delivery of that content.
1. Presentation Content
- Does your introduction grab the participant’s attention and explain your objectives?
- Do you follow this by clearly defining the points of the presentation?
- Are these main points in logical sequence?
- Do these points flow well?
- Do the main points need support from visual aids?
- Does your closing summarize the presentation clearly and concisely?
- Is the conclusion strong?
- Have your tied the conclusion to the introduction?
2. Visual Aids
- Are they easy to read and understand?
- Are they tied to the points you are trying to communicate?
- Can they easily be seen from all areas of the room?
3. Personal Delivery
- Are you knowledgeable about the topic covered in your presentation?
- Do you have your notes in order?
- Where and how will you present (indoors, outdoors, standing, sitting, etc.)?
- Have you visited the presentation site?
- Have you checked your visual aids to ensure they are working and you know how to use them?
4. Personal Appearance
- Make sure you are dressed and groomed appropriately, i.e., keeping with the audience’s expectations.
- Practice your speech standing (or sitting, if applicable), paying close attention to your body language, even your posture, both of which will be assessed by the audience.
- Practice, practice, practice for flow of your presentation, but avoid sounding too scripted or being head down reading from notes. Instead, express your personality in a professional but warm manner. Make eye contact and remember to smile often, if appropriate.
Keith Kefgen and James Houran are the CEO and managing director of Aethos Consulting Group, a hospitality-focused human capital advisory. They are also the founders of 20|20 Assess—a wholly owned subsidiary of Aethos Consulting Group. Kefgen can be contacted at [email protected] and Houran can be reached at [email protected].