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Deliver a High-Impact Presentation

by Ruby Bayan

One time in your life or another, no matter what career you've chosen to pursue, you will find yourself preparing for a presentation, speaking engagement, seminar, or maybe a simple sharing session, where you have to speak in front of a live audience.

So, you have your topic all set, and all your main points written in cue cards, strategically arranged. Your examples, anecdotes, and personal experiences are all perfectly timed within your presentation. You've even checked your visual aids, and they all work flawlessly. You're all set. Or are you?

Will your audience stay awake during your presentation? Will they understand what you're saying? Will they believe you? And most important, how will you hide how nervous you are?

The one answer to all that is: high-impact presence. Use high-impact body language. Be a take-charge speaker. Captivate your audience into believing you. Carry them through to an applauding finish. Here's how:

  1. Harness your adrenaline. You will definitely be nervous. It's normal. Even the most experienced public speakers get the jitters before their presentations. There's no sense forcing yourself to relax. It won't work. Instead, use the nervous energy to perk up your speech. Use the adrenaline to charge your spirits, and psychologically prepare you for the feat ahead.

    Take a deep breath and concentrate on a focus object. Keep your focus while you visualize yourself fully charged in front of your audience. Then move about, tensing and relaxing your muscles to "juice up". Walk down the corridors briskly, silently talking to yourself, "I feel good! I feel great! I'm going to be a hit!" Grab the energy and make it work for you.

  2. Enter the scene with authority. Confidence is the key. And your audience should see it in you the second you come in the room. Walk into the place like you own it. In fact, you do! For the time that is given you to stand before your audience, the place is yours. Feel it and make your audience feel it. Walk brisk, shoulders high, chin up. You're the authority now.

  3. Catch their undivided attention. Never start a speech or presentation without making sure ALL of them are looking at you. Are they ready for you? This could take a few seconds, but it's a pause that tells the audience they are there to listen to you, and not to talk to each other or read a book. Once you've caught their attention, you're ready to start.

  4. Take center stage. Once you've grabbed their attention, keep them focused on you by taking command of center stage -- right there where everyone can see you.

  5. Maintain eye contact. Connect with your audience. Look them in the eye. Don't just talk to them -- communicate. By maintaining eye contact you can be sensitive to their feedback. And when they see you "communicating" with them, they remain interested in what you're saying because they feel your rapport. It's the most effective way to come across. Eye contact. And don't forget to smile.

  6. Move. Standing squarely balanced on both feet expresses authority. But you can't stay that way all throughout the presentation. Move about across the stage to better communicate with your audience. Walk with a full stride. Move your whole body. Express! But don't move too fast -- you will look nervous and anxious, and very low impact. Avoid jerky, indecisive movements -- you will lose your credibility. Glide, that's the word. Take full strides, execute complete and fluid hand gestures. Stay in control.

  7. Conclude with a bang. If your presentation was well-rehearsed, and you were able to maintain the adrenaline all throughout, the only thing left to do is wrap up with an effective close. Signal your audience that you're about to conclude, summarize your major points, and end with a high, emphatic note. Make the audience want to applaud. Make them feel the need to rise and give you a hand. After all, you certainly deserve it.

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