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20 October 2010  |  Posted in Conference material  |  Comment on this post »

Once you have gained control of your materials and practiced in steps 1 and 2, you can focus your full awareness on each moment of your presentation to truly give your audience the best possible experience. Live the principle, “Be here now,” and your audience will be there with you.

Step 3: Use this time-honored approach to making your presentation meaningful to your audience:

  1. Introduce yourself and your topic – build rapport with your audience and establish your credibility. Use a story or anecdote, a tasteful and relevant joke, or one attention-getting word, fact, or statistic.
  2. State your message – identify your specific goal. “At the end of our session, I hope that you will … [know] [understand] [do, take action].” Tell your audience, “We’ll be together for [## minutes], and we’ll use [##] of those minutes for [questions and answers, or discussion, or an activity in which you participate], so let’s get started.”
  3. Briefly tell the story of your involvement with the topic – why you care, how you became involved, what important results are for the research and applied communities. Reiterate your specific goal for what they take away from your presentation.
  4. Hit the highlights – introduce the main points you’re going to elaborate on.
  5. Elaborate on those points – use stories, examples, demonstrations. Remember, your allotted time may permit you to discuss only the major details, but you can hand out a more lengthy paper at the end.
  6. Lead up to the conclusion – help your audience think their way to the specific goal or impact you identified in step 2.
  7. Clinch your goal – state the conclusion you want the audience to reach or the action you want them to take.
  8. Engage them in a dialog or activity related to your research. At least, initiate a question and answer period. If time allows, have them take a sample of a survey used in your research or encourage them to discuss a point for further research in small groups and then have a member of each group tell the entire audience what they thought. Practice with colleagues how long this may take and leave time for it.
  9. Wrap it up with thanks – make your closing statement, usually a reiteration of your specific goal, and thank the audience for their participation with your wishes for their own successful research projects. Offer your contact information if you want to invite further questions or collaboration opportunities.
  10. Get written feedback – during your wrap up, distribute a one-page evaluation form with statements of the key elements of your presentation, each with check-boxes on the effective-to-ineffective or ‘loved it’-to-‘hated it’ or ‘totally agree’-to-‘totally disagree’ spectrum. Tell the audience you care about their response to your topic and ask them to complete the evaluation. Allow audience members the choice of handing you the form or placing it on a table anonymously on their way out.

What do you think? Please share your comments.

18 October 2010  |  Posted in Conference material  |  Comment on this post »

Whether this is your first presentation at a professional conference or your twentieth, showing your research to an audience of your peers can be intimidating. Everyone feels “butterflies in my stomach,” even the most experienced speaker. My advice is: Embrace your butterflies! Envision them keeping you energized during your presentation. The tips in the first two of three “Professional Speaker” steps below will help you prepare thoroughly and engage your audience’s interest effectively so your butterflies work for you. The third step, in the next blog, contains tips for delivering your presentation.

Step 1: Prepare Thoroughly. Of course, you know your material, but preparing to share it with others means you have to give some thought to why they should care.

1. Write your specific goal, a statement that begins, “I want my audience to … [know] [understand] [do something, take action].” If you focus on your audience’s interest, you’ll worry less about your own nervousness.

2. Based on your goal, the audience profile, and time limit determine …

  • How you can relate to them: Are they fellow researchers or in professions that apply your research, or some of each?
  • How to show them that your subject is important for them: Ask for a show of hands of people who are researching related topics right now or plan to soon, or ask each person to briefly write down their primary point of interest in your topic as a basis for questions at the end.
  • Your main points (on the slides) and supporting details (in your talk), what to keep in the presentation within the time limit and which details you can hand out afterward.
  • Any stories you can tell to make your points come alive for your audience.
  • Visual media for support – PowerPoint slides, posters, pictures, flip charts, etc.
  • Hand-outs – what you distribute at the beginning (the printed “Notes Pages” or “Handout” version of your slides) to help the audience take notes and follow along; what you distribute during the speech for impact at the moment; what you distribute at the end, such as an evaluation form.

Step 2: Practice Making your Presentation while Motivated by the Presenter’s Mind-set

Rehearse in front of a mirror or with a trusted colleague or two. Either way, you’ll get feedback, polish your content and delivery, learn where to speed up or reduce content to meet the time limit … and gain confidence.

Keep these attitudes in mind –

  • I’m focused on my goal for the audience’s information or action.
  • I want to show the audience how my topic relates to their concerns.
  • I am drawing a map for the audience to understand the path of logic I followed in my research through my presentation so they reach the conclusion I want them to reach.
  • I will use language tailored to the audience’s sophistication about my topic.

Step 3 will be posted soon!

What do you think? Please share your comments.

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