Evaluation of a past presentation
According to Bradbury (2006), “presentation is one of the most important skill of the modern world”. Good presentation skills are essential today not just for communication, but for accessing the best employment opportunities in the world. Presenting is an art which requires constant practicing and effort. It requires confidence and knowledge on the topic of presentation. Some people may choose to go to school to be taught how to perfect the skill while some will learn through observation, reading and practice.
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Reflecting back on the development workshop, I realize that I have a long way to go before perfecting my presentation skills. Analyzing my performance during the presentation has helped me figure out the areas in which I need to improve. My biggest weakness during the presentation was anxiety. Faced with a big crowd to speak to, it was hard to keep from sweating and getting into panic attacks. I easily lost focus especially when someone in the crowd said something. It took me long to get comfortable on stage, which affected my presentation. I also noted that I did not give my work enough visuals. Having too much literature in my PowerPoint presentation made the work look boring. As a result, it was hard to keep the crowd excited, lowering my confidence levels.
I did not have enough practice before the presentation leaving me unable to answer questions effectively. Poor preparation also meant that I forgot some of the major points. Such mistakes make it hard to have a consistent presentation and makes it hard to keep the audience focused. I also noted that I was unable to keep the time allocated to me, a mistake which I attribute to lack of proper preparation and anxiety which made me lose track of time.
Points of improvement
From the evaluation, it is clear that I need to work on my confidence levels. From my research, anxiety is caused by a build up of testosterone and hampers many people from making good presentations (Rotondo and Mike, 2005). To avoid anxiety, I will need to learn how to breath properly and relax on stage. According to research, taking a few minutes before a presentation to breath in and out helps calm down our nerves, balance our hormones and make us more relaxed (Gabour, 2007). Working on my self esteem will give me more confidence levels and allow me be more comfortable in front of people.
I will also need to develop my tone variation skills to help my audience connect with me more. By studying different presentation articles and books, I have learnt that words and sentences could have different meanings by pronouncing them differently. Tone variation also reveals confidence and allows a speaker enjoy what they are doing (McCarthy and Caroline, 2002). Focusing on perfecting one’s tone variation and pronunciations keeps a presenter’s mind busy improving confidence levels.
My interaction skills need to be worked on to allow me understand the audience more. By talking to one’s audience before and during a presentation, one is able to know the type of people they are and their expectations (Rotondo and Mike, 2005). Interacting with the audience will be very instrumental in helping me feel more comfortable before and amongst them. It is also easier to get feedback from an audience when they feel more comfortable talking to me.
Dressing appropriately for a presentation and grooming are important part of the exercise and influence the way an audience views and relates with a speaker. It is a well known fact that the way we dress determines how we feel about ourselves, influencing our confidence levels. Being confident allows a speaker synthesize their points well and give a more profound output. A speaker needs to leave a memorable image of themselves to the audience if they have to remember what what he or she said. For example, if a speaker is dressed in dirty clothes, it may be hard for an audience to take them seriously or even focus on what they are saying. Facial expressions and body language are key ingredients of a good presentation. They help a speaker exhibit confidence and pass their points across more easily.
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Preparation is a fundamental component of a good presentation (McCarthy and Caroline, 2002). The aim of a presentation is to persuade and convince the audience on a specific subject or topic. If questions are raised by the audience and the speaker is not able to answer them, it portrays a bad image of the speaker and negatively impacts their confidence. Giving the audience an impression that a speaker doesn’t know what they are talking about completely destroys their attention and interest. Preparation involves a comprehensive study of the subject one is addressing. It also involves a lot of rehearsing before the presentation. Rehearsal should include working on time to ensure that a presentation is done in the allocated time.
Like any other skill, good presentation skills are developed slowly through practice. A good presentation’s essentials are using visuals, preparation, tone variation and body language, interacting with the audience and confidence (Gabour, 2007). Mastering these essentials will be a phenomenon step for me towards perfecting my presentation skills.
Bradbury, A., 2006. Successful presentation skills. Philadelphia: Kogan Page.
Gabour, C.A., 2007. Presentation skills training. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.
McCarthy, P. and Caroline, H., 2002. Presentation skills: The essential guide for students. London: Sage Publications.
Rotondo, J. and Mike, R., 2005. Presentation skills for managers. New York: McGraw-Hill.