Presentation Skills

(Sahar Riaz, Islamabad)

Presentation is the key to dissemination

As a common term, presenting is a skill that is developed through experience and training. As an innate ability, humans can speak and communication but in order to present something, it is necessary to learn and practice the art of presentation. This attitude of learning thoughtful and reflective presentation skills is known as “Presentation Skills”.

These skills can be learned at institutional level and that institute can be a renowned university, school, academy or any learning institute meant for education dissemination. This the age of 21st century, it is a must to have presentation skills as verbal as well as presentation of a presenter adds to the ambiance of any event. Keeping in view the need for learning the major aims of presentation include three elements: to inform, to educate and to persuade.

In the age of 21st century it is not about talking for the sake of talk, there is a proper way of disseminating information to the other person. There are six bands which form the main elements of good and effective presentation skills. First and the foremost is profiling the occasion, audience and the location. Planning and writing the presentation is the second important element. It includes deciding the objectives which need to be clear, specific, measurable, realistic, challenging, participative and achievable in the time available. Making a plan involves a framework which has a beginning (including introductory remarks, objectives, and an outline of the presentation, a middle (divided into up to six sections maximum, ensuring main points are illustrated and supported by examples or evidence, use summaries and consider time allocation carefully – and test it) and an end (summaries, linking conclusions with objectives and end on a high note). Third element is the use of visual aids. As up to 50% of information is taken in through the human eyes so careful consideration must be given to clear and simple use of audio-visuals. Certain tips are useful for visual aids including the use of projector/computer slides that may help in making a point and keeping an eye contact with an audience. It is essential to look at people, while presenting, not the slides. It is important to keep content to about 25 words or equivalent if in figures as well as know the order. Use pictures/images and color if possible and do not leave a visual for too long. Fourth element is the preparation of your talk. In preparing your talk, you must decide whether you are going to present with a full script, few notes or from the memory. This decision depends on the aim of occasion as well as the purpose of your presentation but it is good to always keep notes with you. Notes on cards or on slide/flipcharts can be used. If you are required to read a paper, at least be able to look up occasionally. Fifth element is Rehearse with others. Rehearsal is an important feature, which is actually going to work in practice. You should always visit the location if at all possible and check that everything works accurately. Sixth element and the last feature is delivery on the day. Your presentation must ensure the following: Beginning – It introduces oneself properly, captures the audiences and gives background, objectives and the outline of the talk. Middle – It is kept moving along with the eye contact over whole audience, at a reasonable pace, with a varying voice and obvious enjoyment on one’s part. End – It is signaled clearly then goes off with a memorized flourish. Questions – They are audible to all (or repeated if not), answered with conciseness, stimulated by the presenter asking some questions, dealt with courteously and with the lights on. Conclusion – It is a strong summary of the whole talk and discussions and closes with words of thanks.

If you find you are nervous, experiencing fear and its physical manifestations, remember to breathe deeply, manage your hands, look at your audience, move well, talk slowly, compose and relax yourself. Project forward to the end of the presentation and picture the audience applauding at the end.

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About the Author: Sahar Riaz

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