An idea is only as good as your ability to communicate it clearly.
Quite often, communication of our ideas occurs within a formal presentation, requiring us to effectively engage and educate a diverse audience. There is no single secret to success, and every person has to find their personal style, but here are a few things I keep in mind:
- Grade school teaches us to prepare for a presentation by scripting, practicing and reciting, but you have to realize that a good presentation is a two-way conversation, not a recital. The presenter communicates verbally, and the audience communicates through non-verbal cues. Practice picking up on these cues, and adjusting your presentation pace and tone accordingly. Yes, you need to learn to speak and listen at the same time!
- Slides should communicate your message effectively, even in the absence of a presenter, because some people in the audience will read more than listen. But even after you’ve prepared perfect slides, you need to find something incremental to say to every slide, rather than reading the slide. Your slides are the show, and you’re the colour commentator…what you say makes the information on the slide more interesting, provides context, or demonstrates expertise.