The best presentations unfold in three parts: (1) straightforward opening that sets an audience’s expectation for what’s to follow; (2) an orderly midsection; and (3) a decisive, confident conclusion. Here’s what to do:
√ For starters, skip the opening joke. Your stab at humor may not leave everyone laughing and it could sabotage your entire speech. Instead, express appreciation for the chance to speak. Say, “I’m excited to talk with you today on this topic.” Then explain your purpose in one sentence and specify what you intend to accomplish.
√ Use clear language to summarize your purpose. “I’m here because …” works well. Give an overview of what you’re going to cover and why it matters.
√ Before transitioning to the meat of your talk, establish your credibility to address the topic at hand. Use phrases such as, “My decade of work in this field has helped me see ….”
√ During the middle of your speech, tell stories to drill home key concepts. Limit each story to a few sentences.
√ Stay still on stage. It’s better to stand up straight at the lectern and use hand gestures and eye contact to connect with others.
√ Invite questions at the end. But don’t ask, “Any questions?” Instead, say, “Please raise your hand if you have a question” and then keep talking, perhaps answering common inquiries.
— Adapted from “Talking points,” Ross McCammon, Entrepreneur.
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