- identify the device required for projection when a projector cable’s connection doesn’t match the port on your computer.
- identify the best approach to connecting your computer for projection in a new location.
- name three factors that influence how a presentation is perceived.
- name three methods to engage an audience early in a presentation.
- identify a strategy to combat presenter anxiety.
- name the single most influential factor in a successful presentation.
A professional presentation goes beyond just having well-designed slides. You’ll need to know how to connect your laptop to a projector, how to engage your audience and keep them interested in your presentation and how to come across professionally during your presentation. Your demeanor, your body language and your connection with the audience are all important facets of your presentation. This lesson will provide not only the technical side of setting up to present before an audience, but also public speaking tips and techniques that can help you deliver a presentation that your audience will find to be professional, dynamic and effective.
Connecting to a projector
Know Your Ports
Many projectors have a VGA cable, though newer projectors may add or exclusively use HDMI. You will need to know which ports your laptop has. If they don’t match the cable(s) available on the projector, you’ll need an adapter.
Because almost all projectors use either VGA or HDMI, you will need an adapter if your laptop does not have those ports. Make sure you get the correct type – for example USB C and Thunderbolt 3 are not the same, despite being physically identical. Always bring your own adapter. Do not count on one being provided for you.
USB C Adapter
After physically pluggin in your laptop (and adapter, if needed) – every operating system handles video connections (ie projector connections) differently. However, you usually have the option to mirror your laptop screen to the projector. Alternatively, you can treat the laptop screen and projector as separate displays – this is useful if you want to use speakers notes that are not shown to your audience. Regardless of your operating system, you will need to:
- Tell the system preferences how to treat the newly connected projector
- Tell the projector, which input to use (ie VGA, or HDMI) as they usually have several options. Sometimes this is auto-detected for you.
Follow this Setup Guide, which covers both Windows and Mac computers.
Presenting in a professional manner is a skill that takes some time and practice to learn. When you are standing in front of an audience you want to project a professional and authoritative demeanor. You may have the most interesting and dynamic ideas to share, but if you deliver them in a monotone voice while staring at the projection screen, your presentation will fall flat.
You want to find ways to connect and engage your audience throughout your presentation. How you look, what you say and how you sound all work together to create an atmosphere of trust and believability when you are presenting that will engage your audience.
Most importantly, show your passion for your topic. Enthusiasm is contagious and the best way to engage your audience is to show your own interest in your topic.
When you start your presentation be sure to start strong. The first few minutes of your presentation are critical for engaging your audience. Don’t spend those precious minutes with bland information that will bore your audience or cause them to tune out early. Start out with some dynamic information, a striking quote, a startling statistic, something visually stunning, a story or even an interesting (but short) video to start with a strong, engaging message. Take a look at this article How to Start A Presentation Effectively and Engage Your Audience. Be sure to view the Slideshare at the end for some great examples of strong starts and effective hooks.
Imagine you are about to present on one of the example topics below. Come up with 3 different ‘strong starts’ for your presentation. Your strong start can be a slide or just something you will say.
- The role of social media in education
- The meaning of digital citizenship
- Teaching young students how to evaluate information on the internet
- How should Facebook be integrated into education, and why?
- How should internet access be available in public schools?
- When is an appropriate age for kids to start using technology?
- What are 21st century skills and how should schools be preparing students?
- How does technology impact an area of your interest?
Connect with your audience
When you are presenting try to build a rapport with your audience. Involve your audience in your presentation as much as possible. Don’t turn your back on the audience and face your screen, instead gesture to the screen while looking at the audience. If you are using a podium for notes, be sure to step out from behind the podium periodically to get closer to your audience. A podium can act as a perceived barrier between you and the audience, so be sure to move out from behind that barrier to keep a connection with your audience.
When speaking, use an exciting and dynamic voice that is clearly audible throughout the room. Be clear and concise. Avoid jargon or complicated explanations. Try to eliminate ‘uhms’, ‘errs’, frequent throat-clearing and other fillers when you speak. View 10 Public Speaking Habits to Avoid At All Costs.
Maintain good eye contact with your audience and talk directly to them. Don’t scan your eyes through the audience as you speak, but look directly at one person and speak to them for a moment, then move on. Show your enjoyment (or fake it) by remembering to smile at your audience, encouraging them to respond with a smile of their own.
Your body language and gestures can help you appear confident and credible to your audience. Watch this video for tips on body language when presenting (4:51).
Try some of the gestures and postures suggested so you’ll feel comfortable using them in your next presentation.
An important way to engage your audience is to present with a professional, courteous and dynamic demeanor. Don’t try to act or try to be like someone else while presenting, instead be yourself and be sincere. Maintain a professional attitude, even when things go wrong or if an audience member is rude or brusque. At the end of your talk, remember to thank your audience for their attention and be open for questions.
Leave the lights on
Many presenters today will present in rooms with the lights off so that their slides can be more easily seen. Although a dark room can help make slides more vibrant and colorful, a dark room puts the focus more on slides than on the presenter and it can also send your audience to sleep. Keep your audience’s attention squarely on you, where it belongs and keep the lights on while you present. If you use a white or very light colored slide background, your slides will appear less washed out than slides with a dark background in a light room. If possible turn the light off above the screen and leave the lights on in the rest of the room.
When you are nervous, it is easy to start speaking as quickly as possible and to speed through the presentation to just get it over with. But, speaking quickly can actually make you more nervous and in response, make your audience reflect your nervousness. The best way to calm down is to slow down. Take a breath, pause, then pause again. Your audience will appreciate the breather and the opportunity to take a moment to catch up and reflect on what you are saying. You can even pause more than just your speech. If you want to pull your audience’s attention from your slides or go ‘offline’ for a side discussion feel free to blank your slides, effectively turning them off.
To blank your presentation, hit the B key on your keyboard while you are in slideshow mode. Your screen will go black, you can grab your audience’s attention, and when you are ready to resume, hit B again and your slides will reappear.
Open a presentation and start slideshow mode. Hit the B key to blank the screen. Hit B again to reveal the slides.
Practice, practice, practice
By far, the best way to present professionally and to engage your audience is to have a smooth, practiced delivery. Practice your presentation with slides, without slides, very fast, very slow, in front of friends, your cats, a mirror…the more you rehearse your talk the better it will be and the more comfortable you will feel when the time comes to present in front of an audience.
Don’t limit your practice sessions to only what you say. Practice moving through your slides, starting your video, hooking up to a projector. The more you know your material and your equipment the easier your presentation will be and the more professional you’ll appear. Read the section on ‘The Right way to Practice’ from Stanford lecturer Matt Abrahams for some guidance on the best way to rehearse your presentation.
Public speaking is a common fear and it even has its own name: glossophobia. If the thought of giving a presentation in front of others causes you to feel anxious watch this video on techniques for managing anxiety when speaking publicly (10:40) by Matt Abrahams.
Topics in this video segment include:
- Greeting Anxiety
- Reframing the presentation as a conversation
- Being present in the moment
It is completely normal to feel nervous or anxious when presenting, but don’t let your nervousness derail a great presentation!
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