3 P’s for Perfect Presentations
No matter how much experience you have, giving a presentation can be a nerve-wracking experience. There are so many moving parts to juggle: providing clear, useful information, engaging your audience, and using your time in the spotlight as effectively as possible.
Avoid presentation panic by following our 3 P’s, and hit the mark every time!
No matter what style of presentation or context that you are working in, there are some fundamental core components that you should make sure to include.
- Acknowledge and thank your audience for attending your presentation.
- Introduce yourself and your experience with the topic.
- Outline the goals and outcomes for your session and what you expect the attendees to walk out of your presentation being able to understand.
- Start with an ice breaker activity in order to get the audience comfortable and ready to learn. This will ideally relate to the topic at hand and won’t go longer than 3-5 minutes.
- Set ground rules. These can be defined by the situation and the audience. Some typical ground rules can include: “phones on silent” or “one person speaks at a time,” or any specific requirements you have.
- State the benefits of the presentation. You should tell the audience about the positive things that they will take out of this presentation.
- Provide an agenda. State clearly to your audience what you will be covering in your session and the times for the session.
- Provide general facts and figures about the topic that you are presenting.
- Provide a summary of what was covered in your session and reiterate the key points.
- When concluding your session, reiterate what is critical for the audience to take away from your presentation.
Sharing accurate, relevant information is one part of presenting, but engaging your audience is equally important. Some techniques you can use are:
- Consider who you are presenting to and use language and a presentation style that is appropriate for your audience.
- Project a credible and professional appearance. Use clear, simple and relevant visual aids to reinforce key points.
- Present the big picture first, before getting into the detail, then return to the big picture again at the end of the presentation.
- Use similes that the learners can relate to (e.g. ‘Doing this is like…’)
- Limit use of jargon or abbreviations—where used, explain the meaning of each term.
- Project clearly, with appropriate pace and volume. This is important, even in informal learning situations.
- Maintain interest and highlight key points by varying the pitch, pace and emphasis (tone) of your voice throughout the presentation.
- Use silence: the most effective presentations feature a blend of information and silence (pauses) to allow the audience to process and reflect on the information.
Throughout the process of giving the presentation, seek verbal and non-verbal feedback from your audience to make sure your message is getting through. Below we’ve outlined some questioning techniques, divided according to the type of answer given.
Open questions address feelings, predictions and thoughts. They have no prescribed answer and can draw out the knowledge and experience of the audience. Open questions encourage the audience to express their ideas and opinions. For example:
- Why do you think that happens?
- What can we do about this problem?
Closed questions are used for confirmation. Closed questions have either a yes or no answer. Closed questions do not encourage interaction; they tend to close down the conversation. For example:
- Which is the emergency stop switch?
- Have you reached your targets?
A direct question is when you direct a question to a specific person or group. This is a good way of encouraging someone who has knowledge or experience with a particular topic to share this with the group. However, direct questions can be intimidating as it may highlight a learner’s lack of knowledge.
- Ben, you have experience in this area, how would deal with this?
- Maria, would you like to share your experience in providing quality customer service?
- Could we hear from someone in the distribution team, how does this affect you?
As opposed to direct questions, indirect questions are open to anyone present to answer.
The benefit of an indirect question is that the audience is in control of their level of interaction, they can choose to speak or remain silent.
- Why would we need to provide an introduction to a session?
- How could we capitalise on this opportunity?
- If we were to increase the interaction, what do you think would happen?
Leading questions lead the person to the answer you are expecting or wanting. These are used to encourage answers and to support incomplete answers.
- Presumably, you would then check the safety requirements, wouldn’t you?
- So, you have done this before?
- Wouldn’t it be better if you stopped and reconsidered your actions at this point?
- And after closing the valve, what is your next step?
Probing questions are used to follow up on the response that did not give sufficient depth or detail, and further confirmation is required to determine the accuracy of the answer. Probing questions are always expressed as an open question after an incomplete answer.
- Luke, you mentioned checking for safety, how would you go about that?
- Mary, you said you addressed them, how specifically did you do that?
- Eric, how exactly would you do that?
- What would that involve?
Through using the 3 P’s, you can let your audience know they’re in good hands, and get them feeling engaged, entertained and hopefully well informed. Now go forth and present with panache!