Give a Great Talk (and Don't Embarrass Yourself!)

Giving a presentation in front of an audience can be a memorable experience. Whether the experience will be exhilarating or frightening depends upon the amount of preparation a person dedicates to an upcoming presentation. Fortunately, there are some basic do's and don'ts to take into consideration while preparing that will help anyone to successfully convey his or her ideas to an audience.

Visit How to Put Forth Your Best Presentation and you'll find simple pieces of advice that will help you to give a presentation that the audience will remember long after you finish speaking. Several of the suggestions include:

-- Do your preparation keeping the main message of your presentation foremost in your mind. Build your presentation around your most significant point.

Don't use high-flown words in an effort to prove your intelligence. Choose your words only on the basis of whether they'll help you communicate your ideas.

-- Do reveal your excitement about the subject of your presentation. If you deliver a talk with a sincere belief in what you are discussing, it will immediately be detected by an audience.

-- Do keep within the allotted amount of time you're assigned for your talk. If you intend to answer questions, factor that into the timing of your presentation. Practice with a timer beforehand to get a sense of how many minutes to spend on each point.

-- Do always look at your audience. Never put aside the fact that they are the reason you're there. The use of a computer or hanging screen can be of assistance in clarifying your ideas, but don't allow visual aids to disrupt the connection between you and your listeners.

-- Do prevent distraction from your words. Waving around a marker, a laser pointer, or even a piece of chalk, can draw your audience's concentration away from your talk. If necessary, rent a laptop for notes, but only for brief looks. When you are finished with a prop, put it aside.

-- Do give straightforward, concise answers to audience member questions.

-- Do answer questions honestly. If you can't be sure what the answer to a particular question is then tell that to the audience member. As you move on to the next question make a mental note to research the unknown answer so you'll be ready the next time the question is asked.

Over the years, public speakers have discovered certain practices to avoid when giving a presentation to an audience. Go to Tips on Giving a Public Presentation and you'll find some examples of these practices, including:

-- Don't create a verbatim script for yourself. An audience's attention will not be captured by someone reading at a podium. If you feel it would help, write a few notes down on a sheet to keep you zeroed in on your main points.

-- Don't use high-flown words in an effort to prove your intelligence. Choose your words only on the basis of whether they'll help you communicate your ideas. If an audience gets the impression that you're using particular words in order to show-off, they'll surely tune you out.

-- Don't make the mistake of thinking that if you fully understand a piece of subject matter, your audience does too. Make sure that you are framing your talk in a way that clearly and respectfully explains all of the aspects of your topic.

-- Do not fall into the trap of filling the pauses in your presentation with, "ahs, ums, you knows, etc." It's better to have a moment or two of quiet between your significant points.

-- Don't let your gestures take the spotlight off your words. Waving your hands, nervously kicking the toe of your shoe against the podium, or messing with your hair are all examples of gestures that could move the audience's attention away from your important ideas.

-- Don't overload your talk with repetition. State an idea clearly and move on. If you reiterate your points over and over, your audience will become bored.

-- Don't pass up a chance to put your audience at ease. Try sharing a funny quip or brief story that you think would go over well with the particular group you are speaking to. A timely moment of laughter will help your audience relax and listen more readily.

With the right amount of preparation, even a novice public speaker can accomplish the goal of conveying his or her message in captivating fashion.

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