While presenting at the National Speakers Association (NSA) Convention in Orlando a few years ago, I watched dozens of speeches and took notes on what made each effective. This article summarizes what I observed and outlines the 10 factors that can help you deliver an excellent presentation.
1. You know your subject.
It's obvious to me and the rest of the audience that you know your material well and can handle questions with ease. You are confident but not cocky. It's okay if you use notes, but you are not buried in them.
2. You communicate a clear message.
Not only do you know your subject well, but you are able to focus it into a concise message that I can understand, regardless of my level of expertise.
3. Your message is relevant to me (also known as "you care about the audience").
You explain how your message relates to me and my experience. Once I heard someone give a speech that consisted entirely of stories about his experiences with famous people, to which I couldn't relate at all. I kept thinking, "how does this help ME?"
4. You are prepared.
You show your respect for me and the rest of the audience by moving through your points in an organized manner, speaking within the time limit and comfortably handling the room environment and logistics.
5. You keep my attention.
You vary your voice and body language so you are interesting to listen to and watch. You make eye contact with me, you speak loudly enough so I can hear you easily and your body language matches your words.
6. You care about your subject.
Your presentation or speech conveys your sincere enthusiasm for your subject. You don't have to be jumping up and down in the front of the room, but if you don't care about your subject, why should I?
7. You share stories and examples.
Your stories don't have to be long or overly dramatic; they can be short examples or anecdotes that illustrate your message and help it make sense to me.
8. Your slides are not the focus.
You remember that you are the presentation and your slides are just the visual aids. You spend most of your time making eye contact with the audience instead of looking at the screen. Your slides are easy to read and contain high-quality images. (Or, you don't use slides at all!)
9. You are authentic.
You are your real self instead of putting on an act or pretending. You connect with me and the rest of the audience by sharing your real experiences and opinions. And you're the same person offstage as when you're onstage.
10. You're not perfect.
When something unexpected happens or you make a mistake, you acknowledge it with grace and humor. And we are reminded that the goal is communication, not perfection, since perfection is unrealistic and unnecessary.
The next time you have to speak in front of any kind of audience, make sure you include these 10 factors, so you can deliver an excellent presentation.