Getting Better at Presenting
While I have some experience with giving presentations to fellow co-workers and even to people outside of my team, I haven't been in the situation where I've needed to give the same presentation multiple times to different groups.
But this changed recently as I gave more or less the same presentation for the third time. Although I can't claim to be unbiased, I noticed that a very positive and interesting thing happened. It was something that I hoped would happen, but had no way of knowing with certainty would happen. What was it? Complete familiarity with the content such that I no longer needed to look at my notes. This was a really good feeling which I'm sure my audience sub-consciously detected.
During this presentation I rarely stumbled and didn't miss any points that I wanted to make. I was also able to answer questions and resume my presentation without difficulty. In fact, in some cases I was able to bounce between slides and even access the Web on the fly to address a particular request posed by my audience.
This latest presentation I gave was by far my best performance. It was the closest I've come to matching what the professional presenters do in engaging their audience and making a presentation seem more like a friendly conversation. The trick then would be to somehow get to this stage the first time I give a particular presentation. My guess is that the pros can achieve this level of effectiveness without much effort. Amateurs, like me, are going to have a tougher time of it, but I think it is still doable.
In my case, this presentation has expanded or contracted in terms of content depending the audience that I expected to attend. But I'm becoming more and more familiar with the core content. This familiarity should result in my being able to adjust the presentation to create “new” presentations and yet still be able to tap in to previous experiences and deliver an engaging presentation. Only time will tell, I suppose.