Over the years I’ve heard many different tips and ideas on how to give great presentations. One of my favourites is the 3Ps of Presenting from a brilliant presenter and speaker, Tom Balmont, who also knows how to juggle and climb through tennis racquets! Given his skills in performing to crowds in places like Covent Garden, Tom really knows what he’s talking about and practices what he preaches, so I want to share his process here.
Stage one – Plan
Think about what you want to put across in your presentation or talk. What’s the message you want to leave with your audience? Work on the structure of your talk – we find it easiest to remember things in threes, so look at breaking your talk into three sections (like Tom’s process of 3Ps!) Do some research to find out about your audience. What do they want to get from listening to you? How much do they already know about what you’re speaking about? This will help you pitch your talk at the right level. You will also need to speak to your host about the length of your presentation and any equipment you need. Don’t turn up on the day asking for a projector and screen; don’t prepare a 60 minute talk when you’ve only been given 20 minutes.
Stage two – Practice
Standing up to give a presentation without practicing would be like an actor taking to the stage without learning their lines. You don’t need to memorise your talk word for word (unless you’re giving a short talk of no more than five minutes) but you do need to know what you’re going to cover. Just as actors rehearse their lines, you need to practice your presentation. Tom says don’t practice in front of a mirror, because your audience won’t be sitting that close to you. Instead, stand on one side of a room and imagine your audience sitting across the room from you. One time I rehearsed a speech, I stood at the top of the hill looking down at my house, with my dogs as my audience. When I gave the actual speech, I remembered the feeling I had while standing outside in the sunshine, to help me deliver a much better speech.
Stage three – Perform
You can do all the planning and practicing in the world … and then stand up in front of your audience and still give a poor performance. To avoid this, when you take to the stage, you need to switch on your performance. Tom says you need to be “you on your best day.” It’s about turning up your emotions, so if you’re normally bright and cheerful, you need to be brighter and more cheerful, so that you reach the whole audience.
The next time you’re getting ready to give a presentation – whether to promote your business or share your knowledge and skills in a workshop – if you follow this process, you’ll find it easier to give a really powerful presentation.
This week I’ll be the MC for part of the Professional Speaking Association’s annual three day conference in Coventry. While I won’t actually be giving a talk, I’ll be on the stage a number of times, to introduce each of the five speakers who will be giving presentations. I’ve been using Tom’s tips in all the preparation I’ve done and I’ll be thinking about being me on my best day when I’m up on stage.