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Six Presentation Myths

1. It's unprofessional to 'read' a speech.
Some of the most respected and famous speakers today and in history would never entertain the idea of speaking without a script. There are several reasons for this. The first is very simple. By writing, reviewing and editing a script, one can make certain that the content is absolutely optimized for the audience, the occasion and the time allocated for the presentation. Whether or not a professional writer is involved, one can still read, rehearse, edit and modify until the facts and concepts are described and delivered as clearly and persuasively as possible.

Second, depending on the concentration of the speaker, it is easy to get distracted and omit stories, analogies, and other subtle but important elements that make the presentation more persuasive. By following a prepared script, these elements are precisely positioned where they have the most impact and will not be forgotten.

Third, it's easy to succumb to the pressures of the environment and feel compelled to modify a presentation on the fly. This rarely improves the presentation. If a script was developed with the proper research and thought - considering the audience and the occasion - it undoubtedly is perfect for the occasion!

Fourth - and most importunately - less than 10% of business people called upon to deliver important presentations can speak as persuasively without a script as with one. The skill set required to deliver a scripted presentation effectively can be learned . . . the skills required to speak effectively without a script are much more difficult to acquire. Just 'knowing' your stuff is not enough to 'wing' it!

2. Good speakers are born - not made.
Not necessarily! Some of the great speakers of all times had to work hard to develop their presentation skills. Nervousness, fear and the lack of confidence affect the majority of professionals when faced with high-stakes presentations and skeptical audiences. The goal is to convey the expertise, the authority, and the confidence that you possess about your profession or the task at hand to critical but important audiences. You weren't born with that professional expertise - you acquired it! You can acquire the same level of credibility in making presentations!

3. It's not what you say; it's how you say it.
This myth can be debated at great length. The bottom line is being persuasive. It's about creating impressions . . . persuading the audience to know, feel, think or do what YOU want them to know, feel, think or do following your presentation. It's BOTH what you say and how you say it. Remember the Four Rules of Good Multimedia Presentations? 1-Have something to say; 2-Say it clearly; 3-Say it like you mean it; and 4-No amount of technology can help you with rule #1. This suggests that it is both what you say AND how you say it!

4. PowerPoint (or technology) will make me look good.
How many times have you watched a PowerPoint presentation that someone obviously spent a great deal of time creating - but had no compelling message? How many times have you listened to a speaker 'read' the bullet points from PowerPoint frames - but learned nothing new? How many times have you watched a speaker who floundered around trying to solve technical problems to the point of delivering NO presentation (because his technology failed)? Enough said!

5. If you have something important to say, they will understand.
With the 'information overload' existing in our business culture today, it is not enough to have a valuable message - or a dramatic cost-saving idea. Just like the old farmers donkey - who had to be hit over the head with a two-by-four (to get his attention) before he would respond - today's audiences must also have a 'reason-to-listen'! Our brains are accustomed to reading, eating and watching television simultaneously - and that 'skill' exists while attending meetings and presentations. If your audience must put effort into 'understanding' your message, many will simply tune you out - your message must be entertaining, attention grabbing and compelling - right from the beginning!

6. I don't need to practice - I know my material.
Virtually all of us can improve - and practicing a presentation - even in a soundproof room with no audience - is a really easy, harmless, non-threatening way to improve our success rate. Practice until YOU are convinced that you've mastered the topic - mastered the entertainment aspects of your presentation - and maximized the impact you want to have on your audience. Are YOU persuaded that you've tweaked every aspect of your presentation? Are YOU convinced that your audience will see it your way? If not, you're not yet finished at the task of preparing.

Contact us for assistance in developing presentations that work! 





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