Presentation is not only about the content but also the ‘how’

What was the last time you deliver a presentation? was it difficult to handle? and what was the feedback? The presentation shows others your work and yourself, the personality. Usually, the agenda of speakers are either to gain attention or win potential support. No matter which situation it is, when you are at the workplace, school or even in your friend circle, there must be a time for you to do the presentation formally or informally. So this is a killing skill, you could also check my other post here: storytelling makes difference.

Now please stop a while and think what are the most situations when you have to do a presentation? As far as I know, the situation could be presenting your work and telling others what’s the progress, pitching your ideas to gain any kind of help, sharing the knowledge you come up with, displaying your homework and gaining suggestions from the senior, or even just simply introducing yourself. You can see there are tons of different presentations scenarios, the first thing we need to do is to understand and predict what’s the situation of your next presentation because the situation decides the style, which you need to decide at the very beginning.

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Speaking of the style, I mean the whole atmosphere, it can be casual, funny, relaxed, serious or even sad as long as you settled your purpose then the style is easy to be captured. Second, you need to do some research about your audience, who are they? what do they know about the subject you are trying to bring? what do they want to know from you? and lastly what they can benefit from your presentation? Your audience is the presentation all about and they are the one who decides whether your presentation is worth or not, so pay attention to your audience and know about them in order to present in the way that they favor.

What else? at this stage, it is important to know the purpose of your presentation. You need to figure out what do you want to do with the presentation or what outcomes do you want it to come from? Nevertheless, it is also about your audience, what actions do you want your audience to take after the presentation? what do you want them to think, feel or understand? And lastly, what is the benefit your listeners will gain from taking ‘actions’ of your purpose. This is important in the philanthropic sector to ask for help, otherwise, people only know the social problems and they are pleased to know there are some organizations trying to solve those social problems in your presentation in the end. It will be different if you add a ‘take an action’ at the end, then people are aroused at that moment to take any actions to help, which is the most agenda of philanthropic organizations.

After all have been done, you are only at the paper phase. How about during the presentation, what can we do to improve the interaction and presence. A good way to attract people’s eyes is using visual aids, for example, the slides to connect people emotionally by showing people the story, the props to support your story. Visual aids are a trick at the first moment, furthermore, your story or content determines how deeply people can connect with your presentation. However, visual aid is good to reinforce your content and grasp people’s attention.

Photo by Rica on

Lastly, the final step to go. I agreed with what Acumen pointed out that ‘vertical and horizontal moment is the way to ensure you stay present and not rush’. Vertical moment means you have to relax from your cells to muscles, to simply ‘be yourself. While horizontal moment means a way to connect your audience by making eye contact or adjusting yourself along with the audience, but you should also connect to your own, to breathe and relax. Other things you could also do to adjust are taking a break, answering questions, looking at the slides or notes and simply sipping water.

If you ask me what is the most important thing about the presentation, I would say its the passion. Imagine if the speaker is idle and doesn’t know what he/she is talking about, would you still be willing to spend time listening to them? I hardly think so, but when you imagine the speaker is passionate and set fire in you, the audience would also be affected and take action afterward. Passion is the catalyst to the fire, rather than to simply “explain” your data or stories, your passionate content could be:

  • Welcome your audience to the presentation, and then
  • Warn them of the dangers if a specific social problem isn’t resolved, then to
  • Reassure them that you have a solution, and finally to
  • Motivate them to take action with you’-extracted from Acumen

This template can raise the desire of the fellow audiences to be willing to tackle social problems with you, that would be more welcome that you pointed out the destination as well to give them hope, a reason why they need and have to take actions, then they will finally engaged and buy your ideas.

Photo by Henri Mathieu-Saint-Laurent on

Last but not least, body language, it includes words, tone of voice, non-verbal communication. For effective and meaningful communication, the visual, vocal and verbal three parts of the message need to support each other, which means they have to be “congruent”, otherwise, the audience would get confused by different messages. It is important to point out that your gestures, posture, body movement and facial expressions all play a major contribution in getting your message across. So you better record yourself and do a rehearsal before the presentation, then you can easily find the place where you need to improve or pay attention.

Never miss the chance to present yourself or your work, then you will find surprises along the way. If you want to know more, please read my other posts: Storytelling makes difference and Active listening isn’t just listening.

This article was edited by the original author without their consent, and should not be reproduced.

By Social Innovation Insight

We are the bridge of change!

4 replies on “Presentation is not only about the content but also the ‘how’”

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