• 5 Essential Presentation Pointers, Part 2: Have an Outline

    Now that you’ve knocked your audience dead with your introduction as covered in Part 1, it’s time to deliver the rest of your presentation. The best way to do that, for most of us at least, is NOT right on the spot in front of the audience while you sweat in the stage lights.

    The best way to do it is to follow an outline, which brings me to the brilliant point displayed here in bold:

    Have an outline

    For both your intro and the body of the speech you have to know what you’re going to say. There are great improvisers out there, sure, but even they follow a shadow of an outline.

    An outline will help you do a number of things.

    First, it will keep your lecture smooth and on-topic. This is good for the audience and is obviously the best way to make your point.

    Second, it will calm your nerves. The more mystery you can take out of your lecture the better. What I mean is that if you already know what’s going to happen for the most part, there’s simply less to worry about.

    Third, if you have a framework it will actually keep the pace of your lecture more steady. If you don’t know what to say or when to say it, it can seem like a ton of time has gone by, when in fact not much has. Or vice versa, then you start worrying about time on top of the other stuff you might already be worrying about. Don’t do that. Always keep worry to a minimum.

    How to create an outline is possibly the subject of a future post, but I want to at least say here that you don’t to actually have a piece of paper with an outline it. A lot of people use these, and if that works, it works. I myself have never used one because I hate being encumbered with “things” when I’m talking to an audience. It’s like when you’re trying to talk to someone and you’re worried about the time. You want to keep looking at your watch but feel it’s rude and distracting. That’s how I feel if I have an outline. Of course, some people feel that way if they don’t have an outline so, again, whatever works for you.

    But if you’re not going to carry a piece of paper with you, at least have a structure of your speech in mind.

    Another really slick tip here, and one that is worth its weight in gold, is to tell stories when you’re speaking in public. They’re easier for you to remember as they have a sort of built-in plot and outline. They’re also way more interesting and memorable for your audience as well. It’s also a hell of a lot easier to present stories than a bunch of dry facts. Stories take on a life of their own.

    That about covers having an outline when you’re public speaking, with a few golden nuggets thrown in.

    Best of luck and stay tuned for Part 3, How to Breathe when you’re Public Speaking.

    You’d think that would be obvious….

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