This is the third and final part of a three part blog post providing guidance on how to create and deliver an effective presentation. Part 1 provided guidance on how to develop your content. Part 2 gave tips on how to deliver your presentation.
This final part in the series considers how to handle questions and how to prepare for what might go wrong.
You need to decide how you want to handle questions – do you want people to save questions up until the end, or are you happy to respond to questions as they arise? Whichever approach you choose, inform your audience at the start of the presentation so that they understand when to ask questions.
I generally prefer to take questions as they arise as this means that the presentation becomes more of a conversation with your audience rather than a monologue. This has the added advantage of livening up the presentation and providing you with feedback that someone is listening!
If someone asks a really challenging question (which may not interest the rest of the audience), feel free to suggest continuing the discussion after the formal presentation is over. You can also use this technique if one person is insisting on asking lots of questions.
When it all goes wrong…
Presentations, by their nature, have a risk of things not going according to plan – venue problems, technical problems, tricky audience etc. There are a range of foreseeable problems that you can prepare for to make your presentation run more smoothly:
- Arrive in plenty of time to make sure that you can find the venue, get parked and arrive in a relaxed state
- If your are presenting on a large, unfamiliar site, getting access to the room may be far harder than you anticipate, allow plenty of time for this
- Ensure that someone is on hand to show you how the projector and audio equipment work. Find out how to contact them if problems arise during the presentation
- Have a copy of your presentation on a disk/data stick as well as your laptop in case of problems
- Have a hard copy of your presentation available to act as a prompt in case other options to display your presentation fail
- Consider in advance how you might give your presentation if the display fails – will you just talk through the content, or use whiteboard/flipchart to create your visual aids?
- If someone keeps interrupting or asking detailed/irrelevant/difficult questions, suggest that you carry on the discussion at the end of the presentation
- If you are presenting after lunch, then you may have some of the audience start to ‘nod off’ – engaging the audience directly in conversation will liven things up and waken up any drowsy audience members
- Interruptions from mobile phones can be annoying – announce that the owner of the next phone to ring will need to donate £$€10 to charity – this will get them turned off quickly
- Losing your voice is unlikely, but a glass of water on hand will stop you croaking if your mouth dries out
If a presentation goes well, you get a real buzz out of it, so follow the suggestions in these blog posts, relax and enjoy the experience.