Lessons Learned from Presenting

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October 26, 2014 by Dr. Robbie Barber

When you are teaching in a classroom, there are rules you follow.  You are dressed appropriately, you make eye contact with your students, you talk to them, not to the board, etc.  You have your students’ attention, call them by name, and work very hard to keep their attention for 50 min or 75 min. class.  You are changing up your delivery and what the focus is every 15-20 minutes to keep their attention.  It’s called Teaching.

When you present to a large group, you have to modify your practice.  Here are some of my rules for presenting to groups of “strangers”.

  • Dress with a bright colored, attractive shirt / tie / scarf.  Draw the eye to yourself.  Even if you have a presentation on the screen, the viewers need to find you.
  • Animate yourself.  Presentation or no, you must b e worth watching.  Gather all of your energy and USE it.  Go fast, then slow, then excited, then pause.  Change yourself to keep their attention.
  • Speak clearly and loud enough to be heard anywhere in the room.  If you are holding a microphone, PUT IT TO YOUR MOUTH.  Mics don’t work when held at your waist or chest.  Try it in advance and use it correctly.  Thank you from a listener.
  • Provide interesting presentation.  Best compliment I ever received was announcing the last video I was going to show in the presentation and everyone in the room went “awww”.
  • Update your presentations.  The presentations are never done.  I gave one that I had not given in a year.  And then I went home and updated it for the next time.  Make it fresh or at least sparkle again.  If you’re not enjoying the presentation, no one else will.
  • Raise your right hand and repeat after me:  I will not read aloud from the screen.  Seriously.
  • Teach.  Share your experiences, your love of the subject. Let the audience know it matters to learn this material.
  • Race to the FinishHave fun.  Why are you in front of people unless you enjoy it?
  • Race to the finish.  You need a strong start or you lose people. But, no one will remember anything if you don’t finish strong too.

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