There are a number of traps that inexperienced presenters can fall into when they first begin presenting. Any one of these traps can make your presentation look less professional than it otherwise would. This article shares 6 of those traps with you and shows you some neat ways to overcome them.
Trap 1: The lapel microphone
Lapel microphones are wonderful as they allow you to move away from the podium and even through the audience. This makes for a much more relaxed and interesting presentation. The lapel microphone does, however, come with a few traps to look out for:
- You have to have somewhere to clip the microphone. If you are a man wearing a suit, you normally clip it onto the lapel of the jacket and everything is fine. If you are a woman wearing a round neckline you need to check that the microphone is able to be positioned close enough to your mouth to pick up your voice. Be careful of wearing a scarf or jewelry that may rub against the microphone as this will cause interference with the sound quality.
- Lapel microphones come with battery packs. These battery packs need to be put somewhere. If you are wearing something with a pocket that won’t sag with a little weight, then you have an obvious spot. If the battery pack has a Velcro attachment and you don’t have a pocket, you better hope that you have a belt. I have been in the situation where I have had to borrow a belt from one of the conference organizers so that I had somewhere to hook the battery pack. If the battery pack has a clip, you can attach it to the waist band of your skirt or trousers. If you are wearing something without a pocket, a belt or a waist band… you are going to have to carry the battery pack in your hand (not the preferred option). So, before you present with a lapel microphone, ensure you wear clothing that will be suitable.
Trap 2: Water and tissues
Your comfort while you are presenting is paramount. If you are speaking for more than 30 minutes or you are nervous, you will want to have a glass of water close by. If you stand up to speak and you find that you are really nervous, your mouth and vocal chords dry up. To help you lubricate things again, just take a few sips of water. Tepid water is better at lubricating than ice cold water, so pour your drink a little while before you present.
If you suffer from a runny nose, take tissues to the podium with you and very discreetly look after your problem. Sniffling during your presentation will look very unprofessional.
Trap 3: Fiddling with audio visual equipment
The time to check that all your audio visual equipment is working is before the presentation, not once it has started. The audience does not appreciate sitting there watching you fix audio visual equipment during the time they were expecting to hear your presentation.
If audio visual equipment breaks part way through your presentation, keep going without it. If you give the audience an activity to do, you can attempt to fix your audio visual equipment at that point. If there is a conference organizer, you can let them know of the problem and they will get someone to fix it for you. In the meantime, soldier on…. the audience will thank you for it.
In the same vein, check that your microphone is working before you walk onto the stage. If the chairman has used a hand help microphone to introduce you and then hands that same microphone over to you for your presentation, there is no need to hold it up and say ‘Is this working?’ or something similar. Just start talking as if it were working and take action only if it isn’t.
If I am going to be using a lapel or hand held microphone I always check with the people in charge of the audio visual equipment how long it has been since the battery was replaced. There is nothing worse than having the microphone fade and fail half way through your presentation. If they are good at their job, the sound support staff will usually put a new battery in before each session.
Trap 4: Stepping out of sight
It increases audience participation when you get closer to them and get them involved. You can get some great atmosphere happening in a room by moving into the audience every now and then. The trick, however, is to make sure that you still keep including people in the front rows and tables. As a rule of thumb, don’t go out of sight of the front rows of the audience for more than 10 or 15 seconds.
Trap 5: Reading your speech
The audience go to hear you speak, not to read. Reading takes away the natural voice inflections that happen when you speak. It is much more interesting to listen to someone speak than it is to listen to them read. If you are worried that you will forget what you are going to speak about, then use the notes pages for your PowerPoint presentation and put bullet points of the major points beneath each picture. This will allow you to speak about the idea on your slide and it will be much easier to find where you are up to than if you are looking through a written copy of your paper.
Trap 6: Pacing and other repetitive movements
Nervous movements can be very distracting to the audience. These include things such as:
- Pacing back and forth on the stage.
- Hand wringing.
- A repetitive arm movement.
- Jiggling one foot on the heel of a shoe (usually done by women wearing high heels).
- You can find out whether you have one of these distracting movements by:
- Presenting to a friend and getting some honest feedback.
- Presenting in front of a mirror.
- Videoing your presentation and watching it at double speed.
I hope that sharing these traps for the inexperienced presenter will help you to avoid some of the mistakes I have made over my many years of presenting.
Best wishes with your future presentations.
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Sandra Rodman B Com LLB LLM Master Results Coach, Master Performance Consultant, Master NLP Practitioner, Master Ericsonian Hypnosis, Reiki Practitioner, Pellowah Practitioner and author of ‘Winning Presentation Skills’ shares the secrets she has discovered from being the keynote speaker at hundreds of accounting and legal seminars. More information and order link www.WinningPresentationSkills.com
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