Keep your palms dry and your audience alert with these tips.
Step 1: Focus As you prepare, focus on your main points, and illustrate each one with a visual aid, which can be anything from PowerPoint slides to a flip chart to sample products. Studies show that people's minds begin to wander after 10 minutes of passive listening.
Step 2: Clean up your visuals Go for a minimalist look in your visuals; educational psychologists have found that the fewer words and pictures you have on a visual, the more your audience will remember.
TIP: Use the color red; psychologists say it's the color most quickly noticed and easily remembered.
Step 3: Use handouts Prepare handouts that list all your main points. This will make it easier for the audience to follow along, and people will pay better attention if they don't feel pressure to take notes.
Step 4: Practice Practice your speech as much as you can – in the mirror, with a friend or coworker, or in front of a video camera.
Step 5: Check your surroundings Before your presentation, familiarize yourself with the room you'll be using. Make sure you have all the equipment you need, that it works properly, and that you know how to use it.
Step 6: Visualize success Imagine your presentation going well. Research shows that visualizing success can help you make it happen.
TIP: Do some tongue twisters before you take the stage; it's a favorite trick of speech-givers to loosen up.
Step 7: Position yourself correctly Stand to the left of the screen or your flip chart from the viewpoint of the audience, making it easier for them to see the material.
TIP: Take a step toward the audience when you want to emphasize something; it unconsciously signals them to pay special attention.
Step 8: Have a strong close Save your most memorable lines for your close, because that is what your audience will remember most when the presentation is over.
FACT: The Gettysburg Address was only two minutes long!