Most business executives don't receive formal training in giving presentations, but they should. Even in small group settings, a more effective presentation produces more effective results, according to Victoria Chorbajian of Chorbajian Speaking Enterprises, Paramus, N.J. She gives individual coaching and workshops on public speaking/presentation skills and media training.
A major trend has hit corporate America head on — that is hiring outside coaches for company executives, specifically in the public speaking area.
Here is Chorbajian's list of the ten things executives should not do when giving presentations:
Do not read the talk.
By doing this, the presenter is perceived by the audience as not necessarily knowing their material.
Do not reveal facial expressions when distracted.
Do not reveal your true emotions via facial expressions when you are distracted by your audience or lose track. You always want to appear in control — even when you're not.
Don't go at the same pace throughout the talk.
It's important to vary the pace in order to make things more interesting and, or build momentum in the presentation.
Do not practice your presentation only a couple of times.
Practice the talk numerous times, so that when you speak, it appears more natural. Also, the more preparation, the more comfortable you'll be.
Do not have only one eye-contact point.
When you have at least 25 people or more in the audience, there should be three eye-contact points (even when there are no lights on your audience). Eye contact keeps you connected with the audience, and that's partly what public speaking is all about.
Do not force hand gestures to appear more animated.
There should be a purpose for the use of any hand gestures. Without a purpose, the gestures are solely a distraction to the audience.
Do not make any presentation complex.
All presentations should appear conversational.
Do not listen to suggestions on your presentation ability from people who aren't effective presenters themselves.
Do not have a serious face throughout the talk.
It's very important to smile, acknowledge your audience, and make them feel more at ease with you.
Do not continue to your next sentence if the audience suddenly starts clapping.
When the applause starts, pause for a few seconds. When it seems appropriate, continue the talk.
Victoria Chorbajian, president of Chorbajian Speaking Enterprises in Paramus, N.J., is a public speaking coach and media trainer to executives. Her clients include Volvo Cars of N.A., Siemens, Lucent, Jaguar, and Recon. Chorbajian is also the author of Public Speaking & You: The #1 Fear, a 90-minute audiotape. For further information on these services or to purchase Chorbajian's audio tape set, contact Victoria Chorbajian, Chorbajian Speaking Enterprises; phone: 908.696.8444; http://www.victoriathecoach.com.
Tips for Planners:
Contact your speakers or presenters ahead of time and get all of their technical equipment needs and specifications. Stress that if they don't give you the information up front, they will not get the equipment on site. The cost of LCD projectors and other audiovisual equipment is so high in today's market, you'll want to budget for it beforehand.
Contact your presenters and ask them for copies of their handouts before the event, so that you ensure there are enough copies to go around.