Public speakingSo you’ve done something great at work such as finished a tough project, discovered a new way to be profitable or solved a difficult problem. You’re a star, your coworkers and peers admire you and you’re rewarded by … having to give a speech about it.

As you probably know, public speaking is the number one social fear (and some studies show people fear it even more than death). If you’re already uncomfortable speaking to groups, the added pressure of having to do it well as part of your job can cause you reason for panic. Fortunately, you can succeed — it’s not as bad you think it is. So here’s a quick framework to help you succeed with your work presentation:

Understand your goals:

Why are you giving the presentation? Is it for knowledge transfer, to demo something that you created or is it for another reason? It’s important to understand your goals before you start planning your presentation. Ask the person that requested you make a presentation the following questions:

  • What should this presentation accomplish with the audience?
  • What action(s) do we want the audience to take as a result of this presentation?
  • What impressions about our group/project/solution/etc… do we want to leave the audience with?

Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, you can start gathering the information that you need to for presentation and decide what to include.

Understand your audience:

Who will be there? What are their roles within the organization? What are their expectations or attitudes towards the topic you’re presenting on? This information is important as it will help you understand which information to include and how to state it. If the audience isn’t keen on a solution that you’re presenting, you’ll want to focus your presentation on evidence that supports your claim. If the audience is interested in the technical details of your talk, you might want to choose a few select areas and get into detail.

The position of the members of your audience is important as well. If they are higher up on the food chain, they may have limited knowledge of the technical details of your job so you’ll want to give a high level presentation. If your peers will be in the audience, they’ll want to know all the details so they can learn from your accomplishments.

Crafting your presentation:

Your presentation style should match the culture of your organization as well as your audience. If your employer is very strict and formal, your presentation should stick to the facts and have limited humor. If your organization is casual, hip or fresh, then you’ll want to present in manner that’s entertaining and informative. Think back to similar presentations that you’ve seen and how they’ve been received. If you haven’t seen one at that organization, than ask around.

In general, you want to err on the side of caution with a work presentation. If you have to ask yourself if something is inappropriate for your talk, chances are it is. Keep your goals in mind as you craft your speech and remember that in a work setting, it’s usually more important to come across as knowledgeable during your speech than funny.

Other tips:

Work presentations don’t differ significantly from other presentations, but here are some things to keep in mind to ensure success:

  • Do your homework: learn as much as you can about your topic and anticipate questions you might be asked.
  • If your boss as well as other higher ups are in the room, look to them first before answering a question that you’re unsure whether you have the authority to answer (such as providing an estimate).
  • Don’t schedule the presentation right after a meal or at the end of the day. Mid morning is usually the best time for people to give you their full attention.
  • Run the presentation by your boss or a peer that understands your situation.
  • Practice your talk so you’ll perform well.
  • Use music to help you relax before your talk.
  • Create an outline and keep your notes handy.
  • Relate your points to the interests of your audience. Explain the benefits to them.

These are just a few tips to get you started with your presentation for work. You don’t have to create the best presentation ever to succeed here. The reality of it all is that most people don’t take the time to adequately prepare for their presentation, so this added step alone will help you succeed — even if you may be a bit nervous.

Public Speaking Success: How to Create a Presentation for Work

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