You’ve been there. You’re excited about the presentation you are going to listen to. The speaker bio indicates the speaker is experienced and knowledgeable about the topic. The speaker is introduced. They start their presentation and then …
Because the speaker began with one of the five worst ways to begin a presentation!
Every speaker needs to use the first 30 seconds to engage the audience – that’s when audience members typically decide if the presentation is worth their time and attention or not.
I bet you’re wondering what those ‘worst ways’ are, aren’t you?
No need to prolong the agony, here they are . . .
If you have just been introduced, there is no need to re-introduce yourself, but it appears many people don’t understand that. The emcee may have introduced you, the audience likely read your name on the program (or agenda), your name is on the title slide that is on display, therefore it is safe to conclude the audience KNOWS your name. Do not tell it to them, again! UGGGHH!
It doesn’t really matter if you are nervous or not, you still have to give your presentation. Many presenters feel nervous but they are able to manger their energy and the audience doesn’t even know – so don’t bother telling them. The audience can’t do anything about your nervousness. Sometimes nervousness comes through by way of a shaky voice, or hand wringing etc, and in that case, the audience can see you are nervous so you don’t need to reinforce it by telling them. In any case, the audience is there to hear you speak, whether you are nervous or not.
I’ve seen presenters begin their talk by saying “I have a bad cold” or “I’m not feeling well so I won’t be speaking very loudly.” Huh?? When you have the honour of speaking to a group, don’t make excuses for a lousy presentation. The audience does not need to know if you don’t feel well, just like you don’t need to know if they don’t feel well. It doesn’t matter if you have a sore throat or a broken toe, if you are there to speak, muster up your energy and give the best presentation you can, without excuses!
If you want to ensure something is going to be hard, then begin by telling your audience, “This will be hard!” In that way, they don’t even get a chance to decide for themselves how hard it may be, because you have already decided for them. As an aside, not many people want to hear something is going to be hard for them. Even if you think it will be hard, give your audience the benefit of the doubt and let them decide for themselves. You don’t need to pre-determine their experience.
The absolute worst way to begin a presentation is by saying, “How is everyone?” and then when the audience gives a feeble response (which they likely will), saying, in a louder voice, “I said, how is everyone?” and expecting the audience to respond with loud enthusiasm. This is the speakers’ ego taking over and demanding the audience have immediate enthusiasm for them. Unfortunately, as a speaker, when you haven’t given them anything to be enthusiastic about (and trust me, asking a group how they are, is not an energizing question), they are not likely to engage with you. It’s more likely they will disengage from you.
Those are the five must-avoids when beginning a presentation.
Since you’ve read this far, you now have ‘No excuses’ for beginning a presentation, in the ‘worst way.’
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Our workshop participants found Barb’s approach to teaching at the Centre for Professional Development to be dynamic and engaging. Barb not only taught effective communication and presentation skills, but also role modelled techniques throughout the day. Participants were excited to be able to apply learning’s directly into their day to day roles
Associate Director at the Centre for Professional Development, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.
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Gwyneth Meyers BSc, MSc, PhD
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Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
I told one of the nurse educators that it was the best 3 hours I have spent in a training session as the content was clear, relevant, exactly enough to be able to incorporate into presentations, and you demonstrated each point which was great. It was watching an expert at work.
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Toronto General Hospital
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Dale Clements, Administrator
Barb Langlois led a wonderful one day workshop for 45 Clinical Nurse Educators in Saskatoon Health Region. She worked with us in advance to really understand our learning needs, Six months later, I see CNEs using Barb’s techniques to engage learners and I use them myself in my own presentations. I strongly recommend Barb – she is a very skilled facilitator who connects with learners in a very meaningful and effective way.
Margot Hawke RN, BSN, MCEd, Nursing Professional Practice Lead
Saskatoon Health Region
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