Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Dynamic Presentations for Strong Leaders

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Dynamic Presentations for Strong Leaders

Article excerpt

Effective presentation skills are important to all leaders and can be learned. This article focuses on how to prepare dynamic presentations using the keys to successful presentations: preparation, practice, tools/equipment, delivery and nonverbal communication, the flow of words, and great beginnings and endings. The authors share specific techniques and tips to help a presenter maximize confidence and convey messages. Detailed strategies for learning to control ones voice, making use of breathing techniques to diminish anxiety and to facilitate delivery, using notes or scripts efficiently, and utilizing audio-visual tools effectively are also provided.

The Challenge

Women leaders often blame the glass ceiling for their lack of success, but there can be other reasons for not reaching leadership potential. One reason may be inadequate skills in public speaking. A leader must be able to convey ideas and information clearly. Thus, a critical skill for a strong leader is effective presentation.

Many skills have to come together in an effective presentation: speaking with the right voice, using correct posture, enunciating clearly, sharing the material properly, and using the microphone correctly. This article will discuss the issues and skills that strong speakers need to consider in developing and presenting an effective speech,

Approximately 95% of all speakers experience some degree of anxiety or nervousness when speaking in public (Hamilton, 2008). In the life of every leader, however, there will be opportunities to make group presentations. One can learn to meet these challenges, to perfect one's presentation skills, and to enjoy presenting for any size audience. The secret is in the planning and preparing.

The Preparation

The most critical aspect of any dynamic presentation is the preparation, which begins with knowing one's purpose, audience, approach, materials, and the speaking environment. Before presenting, the speaker must know how large the group will be, where the presentation will be given, what time of day it will happen, and the length of time allotted. Also, it is imperative to find out what is on the schedule just before and immediately after one's presentation, who will be in the audience, and what their likely backgrounds are regarding the topic. In what type of room will the presentation take place: large or small, with tables, or with chairs in rows? Will the speaker have access to equipment to enhance the presentation? All of this information will help develop the content of and the best format for the talk.

When constructing a dynamic presentation, it is good to start with brainstorming. Write down all the useful ideas and topics that come to mind on small cards, without being concerned about completing each thought or the order of the ideas. At a later stage, sort the cards into categories and expand on ideas so that they flow into a logical progression that will be easy for the audience to follow (Frímannsdóttir, 2007), Another alternative is to develop a mind map (Figure 1). A mind map is a strategy for organizing thoughts and incorporating many ideas.

The next step is to write out the complete presentation and practice reading it aloud from beginning to end. Work toward clarity: avoid slang and clumsy wording. Consider where to pause, where to look up at the audience, and when to allow for questions. After adjustments have been made, make the final printed version easy to read by using a large font and space between lines. Another option is to put the talk on large cards to reference during delivery. Never put the speech on projected slides and read it from there.

The magic word for good speeches is practice. Read the speech out loud in front of the mirror or in front of another person. Record the speech and listen to how it sounds. One cannot practice enough. Time the presentation and respect the time allotted. Extending a presentation time may interfere with other speakers. …

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