Whenever you present...
by Peter Urs Bender

(NC)-There are five essential elements in a great presentation: Speech, Body Language, Equipment, Environment and Preparation. You have to controla ll of them to have maximum impact.
   The speech is your ideas and the words you use to express them. Obviously, a speech has to inform. Otherwise, you shouldn't be talking! But it also must entertain, though the emotions and move others to action.
   Body language involves all your physical communication tools: voice, breathing, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, posture, movement and the way you dress.
   Many presenters use their equipment or multimedia to get their points across. There are many presentation aids available today--from computers to slides, videos, overheads, flip charts, handouts, and microphones. Know how to use them (or you'll end up looking silly).
   Where and when you present also has an impact on your performance. The location and size of the room, temperature, lighting and schedule of breaks can all contribute to the success or failure of your presentation.
   The fifth and most critical element is the one that is most ignored: Preparation. It doesn't matter what you do - sports, sales, studying, or speaking--getting ready in advance is the key to great performance.

Crafting your presentation

  There is no right way to organize a presentation. However, it is important that you develop a structure--that is, an outline or plan for what you are going to say. Keep it as simple as possible, with nore more than three main points for short talks (or seven for long ones). Your audience will not remember more than that anyway.
   The length of your speech is not as important as getting your message across. Since most meetings and gatherings are behind schedule anyway, the shorter your speech, the better. Do not fill time. Use it! Time is the only non-renewable resource.

Build understanding

   Start with the simplest and most general concepts, then progress to more specific and complicated ones. Use familiar ideas that listeners already accept, then build on them. Your audience must first accept and trust you before they will really listen to you.
   Adjust your language to suit each group. If you are talking to consumers or buyers of your product, for example, you would use different vocabulary than if you are talking to bankers. Use vivid, expressive words that paint pictures they can see. Specific examples instead of general ideas. And short, powerful words--like love, war, sex, money, opwer. Make your sentences short and to the point.
   The bottom line is this: If listeners don't understand you, you're dead. So make your next presentation memoorable. Powerful. Impactful. And effective.

Peter Urs Bender is author of the best selling book Secrets of Power Presentations. For more tips, see www.PeterUrsBender.com

-News Canada