Updated 14 August 2015
first impression a client or supervisor has of your strategic
recommendations more often than not comes from an oral presentation.
to JOUR 640
that reason, any opportunity to make a oral presentation of your work
should be taken seriously. Also think of it as an opportunity to
set the tone and frame the discussion. To put it another way: It is your opportunity to shine!
In organizing your presentation, it is important to remember the
difference between written and oral presentations.
Written presentations are non-linear - readers can stop, start, review
or skip ahead as they wish. In oral presentations, the listeners
only one shot at your message. For that reason, oral presentations
should focus on "the big picture." That means focusing on the major
points, using imagery, symbolism and repetition. For example, a common
mistake when presenting a strategic communications plan is presenting
every goal, objective and tactic as if one is reading a recipe. A
better approach is to first unveil the all of the goals, then revisit
each one. There is no one correct pattern to follow. However, it is
important to remember that logical is
better than linear
Don't underestimate the importance of repetition - give the audience a
chance to remember the things you want it to remember. An often-used
pattern in presentations is to tell the audience what you plan to tell
it, then tell it, and then tell it what you told it.
remember that it is not just what you say, but how you say it that
makes a lasting impression. Body language is defined as messages
send, intentionally and otherwise, through your appearance, body
tone of voice and use of visual aids. Your style of relating to
- professionalism, courtesy, sensitivity, humor, and behavior under
- carries a strong message. First impressions are lasting.
In just the first few seconds after meeting, we are making value
about one another. You want those first impression to be
It is also true that vision reinforces
aural learning. It has been said that you
remember 10% of what you read, 20%
of what you hear, 30% of what
you see and 50% of what you
hear and see.
Charles Reilly, Jr.
and Dorothy Lynn wrote The Power of
. In it they
cite three reasons people have butterflies: you ignore your own game
you are afraid that you will be boring and you are afraid that you will
say what your audience has heard before. Reilly and Lynn say are
ways to replace those butterflies with "positive energy:"
- Do your homework (know
your subject and audience)
- Be upbeat (have a
- Select a key target (This
doesn't mean pick
out one person at the exclusion of all others. What it does mean
is try to relate to an individual. Then move on and relate to
Soon, you will gain rapport with the entire room.)
- Establish good eye contact.
If you are
doing a general presentation, focus on the whole room. Don't
one side of the room over another. If you are making a persuasive
presentation, trying to influence a decision, focus on the lion.
- Be helpful (Make the
audience feel that you
are there as a friend, to help in their understanding)
- Enjoy yourself.
Some other useful tips that
will help you through your presentation:
- Dress appropriate to the context
your appearance. Wear something comfortable.
clothes and poorly-chosen accessories detract from a positive
Avoid loud ties or shirts. Jewelry, buttons or other symbols of
or cause must be avoided. When in doubt, dress toward the
- Start with a subject with which
truly excited and want to communicate to others. It will
many common vocal problems. Talk off the cuff, relying as little
as possible on notes. This means that you have to be familiar
the material. That means practice. One exception: if you
making an appearance where accuracy and precision of language is
then you should use a prepared text. You don't want an "ad lib"
distort your intended message.
- Speak conversationally -
amplification is being used. There is no reason to shout into a
Let it do the work. Let the warm, personable qualities of your
out. Speak so you can be understood easily with appropriate pace
and articulation. Work on the pronunciation of troublesome
If some words make you uncomfortable, try to avoid them altogether.
- Speak the language of your
That means that you should avoid jargon. The use of jargon to the
wrong audience can send the wrong message ("I am smarter than you
Tell your audience what is in it for them. As simple as this may
sound: they are more interested in things they are interested in than
are in things in which you are interested.
- Avoid language mannerisms
- "uh, like,
y'know, hey man." Also avoid Archie Bunker talk - poor grammar,
pronunciations and misused terms. Use shorter words in an active
tense to spark the imagination and help elevate language from the
to the powerful.
- Stand straight and comfortably
evenly balanced. Avoid slouching or fig leaf or reverse
arm positions. Don't wrestle with the lectern. Avoid happy
feet. Don't smoke, chew gum, or scratch in embarrassing
Map out your movements. If there is more than one presenter, make
sure that only those involved in the presentation are "on stage."
- Use visual aids that enhance the
of your message. Do not use them if they will distract
you are saying. Good ideas deserve visual support. Keep
simple - don't try to cram to much information into one
visual/slide. Use color. Use key words. Speak to the
not your visuals. Don't read from your visuals. And don't