There are several blogs and articles for students as well as professionals providing very good tips and tools on making effective presentations. They have catchy headers such as Death by PowerPoint, making your presentation rock and so on. High quality workshops too are useful to teach the participants these skills.

I wish to share in a concise form a few of my observations on what makes or mars a presentation or a speech. This is based on my experience in witnessing large number of presentations made on different topics.

Presentation training in progress

Presentation training in progress

All the presenters had been taught these skills in classrooms or attended workshops previously. I do not intend including the basics to avoid making it tedious.

What is the key differentiation between a good or a poor presentation?

When we ask someone from the audience to give their assessment of the presentation they generally rate it as excellent, good or average based on great communication skills, high confidence levels, language proficiency, eye contact and body language. When these elements are missing it is rated as an average or weak performance.

I believe a key factor that determines the value of presentation is when the speaker makes an ‘impact in the hearts and minds of the audience’. This is revealed from the intense expressions of the audience who listen with rapt attention all through. It’s almost like being fascinated.

What really brings in this effect? Have such speakers developed certain abilities that go deeper than skills? A few of my observation on the traits of a good presenter are penned below:

1. When such a speaker comes to the dais you see a radiant smiling face. This I have noticed as a characteristic of the person from the start to the end.
2. He or she looks fresh, natural and relaxed.
3. The speaker views the audience with an expression of genuine interest. Making each individual feel connected to the speaker.
4. The way he/she enunciates the preamble (or objective) of the topic each listener feels this person will share insights that will help them immensely. The audience feels at ease.
5. When he explains complex issues it is done in a simple, friendly and easy way. Yet the wisdom in it can be felt. Even at such times a flicker of a smile and a tinge of humor is present.
6. The thrust of the entire talk hinges on one central theme. The audience therefore remains focused.
7. Questions from the audience flow out spontaneously and are answered with genuine interest. The knowledge of the speaker is revealed subtly without being overbearing.
8. The greatness of such speakers becomes more pronounced in the way he/she answers even frivolous or irrelevant questions with tact, clarity and firmness.
9. The maximum impact perhaps comes when a speaker’s speech is an amalgam of confidence and humility. He is disarmingly frank and accepts views from the audience with respect and admits that he does not have all the answers. The following quote illustrates this – “We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.” – Rabindranath Tagore. (Indian Poet, Playwright and Essayist, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913)

10. You may recall the speeches of some great speakers like Barrack Obama the President of USA

Barrack Obama charismatic

Barrack Obama charismatic

as having some the above characteristics. At the end of the speech the audience experiences a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment

Please do share your own views and opinions on what makes a good presentation or a great speech. Are people gifted Or can one hope to acquire such abilities with practice and training. What special emphasis do trainers need to incorporate in their programs to achieve excellence?

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About dilipnaidu

An open mind! Love to share my thoughts and a keenness to learn. An engineer and a MBA I had a wonderful innings in the Army and later moved to consultancy and teaching. My current interests are reading, music, growing culinary herbs, playing golf and yoga. I am serious on "Living life less seriously". A warm welcome to you be well and be cheerful always.

16 responses »

  1. dilipnaidu says:

    I appreciate your and share your views on Barrack Obama. You have identified the points in making effective presentations very well.

    Thanks a lot! And keep visiting 🙂

    Like

  2. Vedant says:

    Dear Sir

    This is my favorite topic to speak upon. Everybody knows about Barrack Obama, actually he won the election on his quality of “oratory”. In other words, I will say he is a speechifier. He clinches the volks by his words like MAGNET. He knows the power word and he intelligently used that in his elections. Hopefully, everyone remember that “CHANGE”. You will be surprise that it is every simple word which we use in daily life. But he used this word as his greatest victory ever in American Elections. In Indian Elections, BJP govt. used this word in their election campaign but they do not know how to use it?; that is why, they lost the election.

    According to me this will be the points to make a effective presentation as mention below:

    1)Innovative Idea of Presentation
    2)Content should be good
    3)Take full knowledge about the topic
    4)Self Belief(I Can Do it!!)
    5)Use only simple words while in presentation that each and every person can understand, whatever you communicate?

    I think these are the five main points which I am always keep in mind while giving presentation to Boss.

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  3. I think a successful presentation is one where the presenter is able to communicate with the audience and is able to establish a connection. Also the presenter has to believe what ever he is presenting, this may sound very simple, but if the presenter does not believe what he/she is presenting it clearly shows on the face and the connection with the audience is lost.
    It is often said before the presentation know your audience, but more often than not we are in a position where we do not know the audience and we come to know them during the course of the presentation.
    I also feel that one cannot make a check list of things that if X, Y, Z are done then your presentation is a successful. I think it is what is the purpose of the presentation, if it is achieved then it is a good presentation.e.g. an sales executive need not be charismatic during his monthly review of sales figures. likewise the CEO of the same company cannot give presentation like his sales guys.
    Last but not the least, if the speaker/presenter is able to connect with the audience then his job is done.

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    • Dilip Naidu says:

      You have applied your mind and provided fresh insights. As a teacher you know these inputs will be of immense value to my blog viewers as well as the student community in general. Thanks and regards.

      Like

  4. dilipnaidu says:

    Hi Neha,

    Oh what a honor indeed! A visit from an amazing and popular blogger like you is a huge encouragement.

    Thank you,

    Dilip

    Like

  5. Neha Kapoor says:

    My first visit to your blog. I love it 🙂

    Like

  6. Raju Nair says:

    Humility is one major factor …that is required …i have learned form you while making a presentation. One point that I have noted is always talk to a target audience …the subject and the context should be chosen well to create maximum impact

    Like

    • dilipnaidu says:

      Hey Raju,

      Your kind words! Coming from you means a lot to me! Especially now that you are a seasoned pro and a successful entrepreneur.

      Regards,

      Dilip

      Like

  7. Dilip Naidu says:

    Hi Lubna,

    Thanks for your insightful comments on how some speakers unknowingly convey the wrong vibes. I have closely observed inspirational speakers who create a positive spirit in the audience. Despite being knowledgeable and highly successful there is no trace of ‘superiority’ when they speak. They inspire and energize the audience. And I think a smiling demeanor helps too.

    Thanks,

    Dilip

    Like

  8. Lubna says:

    Dear Dilip Sir,
    You have made some excellent points. I have seen a few speakers who speak down to the audience. They do not understand that the audience is a mix of people having varying technical knowledge. I have so hated this air of superiority. What is worse is that these speakers are actually nice human beings, they don’t realise the vibes which they send out while speaking. All this because they are unable to create a rapport with the audience.
    Best regards,
    Lubna

    Like

  9. Dilip Naidu says:

    Dear friends,

    I wish to thank you for making time and giving your comments. I am certain that they will add immense value to my blog viewers as also to my students who are in the process of developing their presenting skills.

    @ Dwarak Ethiraj
    Yes surely ‘time management’ does become a critical factor to make a presentation sink home the purpose. The content could be vast but we need communicate its essence or the audience will switch off. This is something that needs craft and skill and many lose sight of its importance.

    @ Aniisu
    I fully agree with you that the post presentation session becomes the ‘clincher’. It can make, enhance or mar the effect of the presentation. Follow-up coaching is a noble thought and requires a spirit of true dedication. A valuable point to note.

    @ Prof. Ramneek
    Oh yes to get to know the audience on a one-to-one basis can bring much meaning to what and how we present. For this we need to be innovative in devising the ways and means. But it is worth the effort as both the audience as well the speaker will enjoy the process. Dwarak too has endorsed your views.

    @ Manish
    Fear is certainly a monster. Some of the best speakers in the world are known to admit that they too get butterflies in their stomachs before a speech. In an after-dinner speech you can imagine their plight. Your point on ‘self-belief’ is the key and of paramount importance. Unless there is a belief and conviction in what your central theme is the impact will not happen.

    Best regards,

    Dilip

    Like

  10. Manish says:

    The fear of public speaking ranks high, up there alongside the monster called inexperience and lack of self-belief/esteem; that brews from low-knowledge and exposure to the subject area/matter. May be that’s the reason we have so few good presenters and public speakers around.

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  11. Ramneek Kapoor says:

    speech or presentation is said to be successful only when the speaker has been able to have a heart to heart talk with each and every member of his audience. It is not necessary that the audience that we address will be at the same level of understanding and reception, yet how do we interact with each one of them through various communication tools available; decides whether we have been able to make a contact or not.
    Prof.Ramneek Kapoor
    International Author
    ramneekkapoor.wordpress.com

    Like

    • Dwarak Ethiraj says:

      I fully agree with Prof.Kapoor. True impact is not just dependent on what is observed or felt at the time of presentation, but how it is handled afterwords and utility ultimately derived by the audience. This is only accomplished if channels of communication are opened .

      Like

  12. aniisu says:

    This is a good post.

    While we address issues related to the presentation, I believe that a presenter who is accessible and open to connecting with the audience post session is the one who builds a larger impact. It is not just about delivering a presentation but being around to regularly share updates, clarifing doubts and coaching participants to get better at the topic.

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  13. Dwarak Ethiraj says:

    In my judgment the length to content ratio is very important when it comes to speeches and presentation. Illustrations or examples apart, this aspect is particularly relevant when the audience is from a mixed background. It pays to have in mind that a speech or presentation is not meant to substitute reading. It is often said that optimum span of attention is 20 minutes under normal circumstances and would help if keep in mind.

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