The tone of a presentation is a weird one. It’s not quite written, but we don’t really deliver presentations exactly as we speak either. The tone of a presentation is somewhere in between. This is one of the reasons that a lot of people can’t quite get the tone of their presentation just right, so here are some tips on getting your presentation tone perfect in any language. You’re going to go from screen to scratch to screen. Let me explain.
We start out on the screen.
When you have a presentation to give, you should be opening up a Word document and not a PowerPoint one. Writing out your whole presentation can be really beneficial to: learn your content, manage the flow of the presentation and help to memorise the order of your points. All good things right? But people too often stop after everything is written out and start making their slides. That gives us with a presentation that is often read or learned purely by heart and that leaves it feeling stiff and recited. How to avoid this?
Go from screen to scratch.
Once you’ve written your presentation out, you’re going to leave this document behind. Now what you’re going to do is make a list of keywords from this document that will be your map. You wanted to start out with that anecdote of the time you got a hole in one? Ok. Write on your paper: hole in one. You want to follow up with a study showing that most golfers who get a hole in one talk about it on average 2,344 times over the course of the rest of their career? Fine. Write: 2,344. That’s it. Nothing else. Reduce your entire presentation down to key words. This is what will enable you to get this prepared, but natural tone. This list of keywords, we call it: the conductor. What’s great about this, is you can even note where your clicks and slides are, so that you’re never looking back at your screen. 🙂
Go back from scratch to screen.
Now you’re going to go back to your screen, but not the computer, the tablet. Practice your presentation using your conductor in front of your iPad or similar device. We all have the intelligences needed to decide if someone is a “good speaker” or not. Even if the speaker is you. Are you open enough? Are the keywords you chose for yourself working? Do you know the order of your slides or do you have to look at them? Practicing in front of the iPad and then watching it back is invaluable when working towards becoming a natural and charismatic presenter.
Now a couple of don’ts.
Don’t ever swear or say vulgar words. As much as these things are a part of natural language which we are trying to incorporate, presentation is still a somewhat formal and polished media. This is what I mean when I say that it’s a weird hybrid. People swear when they talk, but in a presentation it will make people cringe.
Don’t ever read whatever you’ve written. This is really hard to pull off and a speech and a presentation are two different things. Leave the speechreading to people like Obama. He’s used to it and has those super-cool see through prompters. You don’t.
In our increasingly digital world where companies who were born before the Internet are struggling to reinvent themselves, the line between formal, written language and casual spoken language is getting ever thinner and we’ve seen that the medias who embrace this new hybrid tone have thrived. Daily Candy and Buzzfeed in the states, My Little Paris here in France, but for a presentation this has always been the case. Test it out and let us know how it goes.