How to Give Speeches Like a Pro [PRESENTATION]

On Wednesday we will commemorate the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech on its 50th anniversary. MLK was known for delivering speeches with incomparable poise and eloquence, inspiring others through his thoughtful words. Surely a natural talent for speech giving helped MLK speak so powerfully – but only to a certain extent. Preparation helped Martin Luther King, Jr., give effective speeches, and preparation can help you in your speeches, too.

Without preparation, your presentation will not resonate with your audience. Without practice it’s likely that you won’t be able to act like your natural self while presenting. There is a foolproof way, however, to prepare for effective presentations developed by professional communication and presentation instructor Alex Rister. It’s only by forming thorough ideas, creating complementary graphics, and practice that you can expect to become an above-average speaker worthy of occupying the ranks of MLK. Here are Rister’s tips for preparing an effective presentation.


Idea Formation

presentation preparation: content

Most presenters spend too little time or no time at all thinking about what they want to say. Making a point or effectively conveying an emotion to your audience, however, requires lots of thinking. To start your thinking process, Rister suggests you research the topic you plan to present. This way you might find inspiring statistics or case studies. Next, consider your audience’s needs and brainstorm ways to meet those needs.


Critique on Ideas

Every presentation has the potential to be great; every presentation is high stakes; and every audience deserves the absolute best

Before progressing, make sure your presentation ideas resonate with the people you are trying to reach. Find a few members of your target audience and ask them to critique the materials you’ve compiled so far. This way you will know whether or not the information you are presenting is as new and helpful as you imagine. Plus, those critiquing your work are are likely to provide you insights into your topic that you may have never thought of otherwise.

Though it can be hard to receive feedback on your work, especially when it’s not yet complete, remember the high potential your presentation has for helping your audience. As Rister quotes Nancy Duarte, “Every presentation has the potential to be great; every presentation is high stakes; and every audience deserves the absolute best.”


Presentation Structure

Making a point or conveying an emotion requires lots of thinking

Once you’ve adjusted your presentation ideas based on feedback from your target audience, it’s time to build your presentation storyboard. In this step you will outline your presentation structure and decide how best to transition from one thought to the next.

The number of ways to present your information, though, can be daunting. One way to ease your stress is to take a leaf from Kurt Vonnegut‘s book and present your information as a story.


Design Your Slides

presentation preparation: design

Now that you’ve created your storyline, it’s time to design your slides. For presentations, one rule of thumb is to present qualitative data with words and all quantitative data with numbers. This is why telling headlines and expressive charts make helpful visual guides for your presentations. But your presentation shouldn’t be all words and numbers! Media like photos and videos (as long as they play) are also helpful visual elements. As far as design goes, avoid using boring fonts like Arial, Calibri, and Times New Roman in your presentation; instead, use standout fonts such as Lobster Two and Alternate Gothic No. 2.

For more advice on creating captivating presentations, visit our guide on SlideShare.


Seek More Feedback

presentation preparation: delivery

Once you’ve designed your slides, it’s time to seek even more feedback. Run through your presentation in front of others. That way if an element doesn’t load correctly, a word is misspelled, or you’re missing a slide to connect two ideas, you’ll find out now, before you present is in front of a large audience.


Practice, Practice, Practice!

what separates an effective presenter from an average one? Preparation

Nothing’s worse than a nervous, unprepared presenter. Do yourself and your audience a favor and practice your presentation until it becomes your mantra, even if you have to run through your presentation 101 times. Just make sure you know your presentation like the back of your hand. When you know your presentation so well you don’t have to think about it, you will sound natural while presenting.


Presentation Day

presentation preparation timeline

Finally, presentation day has come. If possible, arrive early to prepare the room and to make sure you have all materials necessary for presenting. This way, if you forgot to bring your Mac adapter, for example, you’ll have time to find an alternate way to connect your presentation file to the projector.

Remember: preparation is what separates an effective presenter from an average one. When it comes to presenting, who do you want to be?

For more information on creating captivating presentations, check out our guide on SlideShare:

What are your tips for delivering effective presentations? Share with us in the comments section!

Rich Martin
Informative article and great slides, very well put together.
Rich Martin
Informative article and great slides, very well put together.
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