20 Overview and Intention

Contents

The chapters in this module include:

  • Your Presentation Style
  • Developing a Presentation Strategy
  • Presentation Aids
  • Communicating with a Live Audience

Module Summary

You may have already had exposure to public speaking and giving presentations, or perhaps you shudder at the thought. This module introduces you to the art and science of putting together an impressive presentation. You will develop key strategies needed to prepare and deliver professional presentations. Doing so so requires a range of skills. Foremost is the ability to communicate well. Whether for business, school, or in everyday life, the ability to communicate effectively and with confidence is a core skill. But not everyone is a gifted communicator.

The art of communication involves the effective transmission of facts, ideas, thoughts, feelings, and values. Speech is a key skill in communicating. Conversational speech may come easy to some, but communicating verbally in a professional context may not. Professional speaking can be thought of as a rhetorical skill. To be effective, you need to understand not only what to say but also how to say it. You will learn about key elements of rhetoric as a function of communication and how it can be applied to professional presentations.

Casual conversation is usually spontaneous and informal. What is communicated may be unplanned and without consequence. Professional presentations, on the other hand, need to be planned and well-structured. They often occur in formal and sometimes stressful environments. Unlike in casual conversation, personal traits used in formal presentations may not come to you naturally. As a presenter, you need to know how to use elements of verbal and non-verbal communication effectively. For example, eye contact, body language, speaking style, active listening, and being concise are all important elements of a quality presentation. You will learn ways to hone these traits in order to effectively apply them as you develop your personal communication style.

In this module you will learn about proven techniques for planning a presentation for different purposes such as informing, persuading, or entertaining your audience. Each of these requires attention to detail and a clear strategy. Delivery includes what you say in words and what you say using props or presentation aids. You need to ensure these work in harmony to convey your message clearly. You will also learn about design considerations for creating visual aids to enhance your presentation.

Anxiety is a common barrier many presenters experience and can result from being nervous or uncomfortable facing groups of people. It can also be caused by things like the presentation venue, familiarity with equipment that will be used, or other environmental factors. We will examine techniques to cope with and offset the impact of presentation anxiety.

As you work through the eText module chapters, you will learn that giving good presentations does not just happen; rather, it is the result of a deliberate and well-planned process that combines both art and science. This process begins with you learning some things about yourself, specifically identifying key skills that you can adapt to improve on your delivery style and the authenticity of your message. We will determine the extent to which your own beliefs and attitudes may play a positive or negative role in delivering a successful presentation. You will discover how building self-confidence and using self-reflection can help you to develop your ideas more thoroughly and communicate them effectively to others.

Interpersonal skills are perhaps the most important for a successful presentation. They are key to getting your message across and to the way your audience reacts to you and interacts with you during your presentation. You will discover how verbal and non-verbal skills can be harmonized to deliver a presentation that an audience will not soon forget, both in its content and in presentation.

The next phase of the process is about planning. Here you will learn about factors to consider when preparing for an effective presentation and how to develop an execution strategy based on these factors. We will cover planning activities such as knowing your audience, researching supporting evidence for your topic, and organizing the flow of your presentation.

The final phase focuses on delivering a presentation. This is the culmination of your hard work in preparation and planning. It is where you showcase your communication skills and planning strategy. This is also the time when your audience is eager to get what they came for. In other words, this is the time when you sell yourself based on the quality of information you will convey and on how well it resonates with the audience.

Regardless of its substance or how well planned it may be, a poorly delivered presentation can be a significant disappointment to you and the audience. Not every presentation can be done well by winging it. You will learn several delivery techniques that improve the likelihood of a successful presentation including how to skillfully use body movements without causing distraction, how and when to vary voice characteristics to add emphasis, and the subtleties of eye contact to draw your audience into the presentation. You will also discover the pros and cons of using props and how to integrate them effectively to support your presentation.

Since your presentation is as much about you as is the topic, you will learn tips and techniques for rehearsing, interacting with your audience, conducting effective Q&A’s, and improving your persona.

Relevance to Practice

long with good writing skills, the ability to communicate verbally is vital to many employers today. It is an integral part of the modern business world. People in the workplace spend the majority of their time communicating. Verbal communication in the workplace takes many forms such as staff meetings, discussions, speeches, presentations, informal conversations, and telephone and video conferences.

Communicating verbally is more personal and flexible than writing. It allows workers to exchange ideas, information, and feedback more quickly. Verbal communication tends to occur in person, making it easier to negotiate, express emotions, outline expectations, and build trust, all of which are important in today’s workplace. Communication can also occur between people who are not together in person. In these situations, unique skills are necessary to achieve success.

Simple conversation skills are also valued in the workplace, but this does not mean using casual or informal language. Rather, what is prized by many employers is the ability to communicate important information professionally but in a meaningful and understandable way. This can be important when making spontaneous presentations as well as more elaborate formal group presentations, which are a part of many work roles today

Learning Goals

An overarching theme in this eText is on recognizing how personal traits and attitudes build confidence and that successful delivery of a presentation is the result of clear and deliberate planning. Learning goals based on this theme will guide the development of a planning strategy while learning outcomes serve as evidence of achievement. Key developmental attributes related to the learning goals are also listed here.

The learning goals for this module are that upon completing the readings and activities presented in this module, you should be able to do the following:

  1. build a persona that exudes confidence as a presenter and;
  2. understand the dynamics at play in developing an effective presentation delivery strategy and executing it successfully.

Developmental Attributes

Upon successfully completing this module, you should:

Understand the following:

  • That communication is not only about the words we say but also about how they are conveyed
  • That communicating well involves knowing about yourself and is vital to building acceptance and trust in others
  • That good communication is not an inherent skill but a process that is learned and practised
  • That listening is a focused mental process, while hearing is a physical process with no particular intent
  • That effective verbal communication can be key to a person’s success

Know the following:

  • Rules and procedures for organizing information
  • Characteristics of different purposes for verbal presentations
  • Strategies to manage performance anxiety
  • Quality standards for the development of presentation visual aids
  • Techniques to minimize performance barriers

Be able to do the following:

  • Effectively communicate in verbal and non-verbal ways
  • Adapt language and communication style to ensure understanding by a diverse range of individuals
  • Speak in a clear manner so as to be easily understood
  • Apply active listening strategies to give full attention to what others are saying, reflecting on what is said and offering constructive responses
  • Create effective visual aids to support presentation topics
  • Demonstrate management of audience interaction techniques

Learning Outcomes for this Module

Upon successfully completing this module, you should be able to:

  1. demonstrate the effective use of key interpersonal communication skills in professional presentations,
  2. execute a communication strategy to deliver an effective presentation following accepted standards of public speaking, and
  3. demonstrate the effective integration of communication and presentation techniques in the delivery of professional presentations.

License

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Professional Communications by Olds College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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