Managerís Corner/Be An Expert Presenter

by Liz Weber

I attended a luncheon recently that culminated with an insurance expert explaining his services to the attendees. As the gentleman turned on the overhead projector to start his presentation, the bulb blew. A quick inspection proved there was no spare and the restaurant didnít even know theirs required bulbs! Instead of panicking, the expert simply said, ďIíll just have to cue you more carefully as you follow along with your handouts.Ē He then proceeded with his talk. As he talked, he regularly scanned the audience to pace his talk appropriately for the group. When a few heads would bend together to discuss a point he had just made, he would slow his pace and watch them to see if he needed to interject or if they were simply confirming among themselves. He would quickly glance at his watch laid on the table in front of him to track his timing. When there were ten minutes remaining, he wrapped up his presentation and stated he would take questions for the remaining ten minutes. As the final ten minutes slipped by, he thanked us for our time then referred us to his contact information on the handout if we had further questions. It was an informative and pleasant presentation because the expert was not only an expert on insurance, he was a good presenter. He didnít make us uncomfortable watching him sweat and stumble through his talk.

He did a number of things right that many of us can easily do to make our presentations rank with the experts:

1. He KNEW his topic. He obviously was comfortable with the information and projected that confidence.

2. He didnít panic when the overhead projector bulb blew. Even though he had anticipated using the projector and pacing his presentation from it, he easily presented in a different manner. The key to success here is to NOT practice any presentation so it sounds the same each time you practice it. Youíll end up memorizing your presentation instead of practicing delivering the information, and thatís whatís more important.

3. He didnít apologize profusely for the bulb blowing. He simply stated he would take a different presentation approach. Nothing is more distracting than a presenter constantly apologizing for making mistakes or for being nervous. The more the speaker dwells on the mistakes, the more the audience does too. Just accept the mishap and move one!

4. He didnít read the handouts to us - he talked to us. Reading a presentation to your audience will put them to sleep. Think back to reading bedtime stories to your children. Isnít that one of the reasons we all did it - we wanted our kids to relax and fall asleep!

5. He watched his audience for pacing and understanding. If you read your presentation, you miss cues from your audience that can guide your pacing.

6. He timed his presentation to allow for questions and then stopped the session at the scheduled time. He didnít disrespect our time commitments and gave us contact information if we wanted it.

With some thought and practice, these basic steps in preparing for your next presentation should help you become an expert presenter too.

© 2000, 2003- Liz Weber, President of Weber Business Services, LLC. Business Consulting, Training & Speaking - Specializing in Strategic & Business Planning and Leadership Development.

Sign-up for Lizís ďManagerís Corner e-ZineĒ at Liz can be reached or (717) 597-8890