Unit 10: Using Your Presentation Aids
In unit 6, we discussed how to create or prepare your presentation aids. In this unit, we explore how to use them during your actual presentation. Using your presentation aids successfully involves revealing each slide when it is germane, integrating the material into your speech, concealing your presentation aid as soon as you finish discussing it, and moving on. Do not read your presentation aid verbatim. Be prepared if the technology fails. These rules apply to face-to-face and online presentations.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 1 hour.
Prior to Your Presentation
Arrive early or log in to your presentation platform as soon as possible to make sure the technology is compatible with your computer and will display your materials properly. Knowing your materials will display correctly will help you take the literal or online stage with confidence.
Make sure all of your visuals display correctly. For example, make sure the graphics, photographs, and videos are not skewed, fuzzy, or distorted when displayed on the "big screen". You may need to make adjustments!
Make sure you can access your slides and files quickly and easily. Know where everything is in case you need to reorder them during the presentation. For example, you may need to revisit a slide or find one you decided to exclude if someone in the audience asks about it. You may need to skip slides if you discover your audience is not interested in certain materials, or shorten your presentation due to an unanticipated time constraint.
10.2: Revealing and Concealing Your Presentation Aids
During your presentation, your camera should focus on you. You control what the audience sees. Wait to unveil the appropriate slide until the moment you reference it. Discuss the image or idea, allow your audience enough time to digest the media, and conceal it by removing it from the screen afterwards, so the audience is not distracted. Think about your presentation aids as if your audience is dining in a fine restaurant. The server presents your plate when your meal is ready and removes it when you finish eating, leaving the space in front of you empty, ready for the next course.
When you are not directly referencing your slide or presentation aid, make sure your audience has something to look at that is not too distracting, such as a large chunk of text or an interesting image.
10.3: Working with Technology
Every presenter must deal with ineffective technology at some point. For example, you may have to use an unfamiliar software platform or respond to a last-minute technology glitch. How will you react if you lose your internet connection, your computer crashes, or a low-bandwidth connection prevents your video from loading? The list of potential issues is long, but your list of responses is short. The sure-fire way to maintain your composure is to practice your presentation, know your material, and be prepared to work with whatever you can.
For example, bring an outline of your presentation, printed notes, and be prepared to offer oral descriptions of the images or videos you plan to share in case they are no longer visible to you or your audience. Your preparation will demonstrate your commitment to the audience and calm your nerves. Avoid statements like, "if I could only show you the picture", since they will frustrate your audience. Avoid apologizing too much even if you caused the failure, since it will draw attention to your shortcomings and diminish your credibility.