Many presenters, especially those who are unprepared, have a tendency to read through the presentation or read their slides. This tendency to read happens because the presenter likely waited until the last minute and crammed everything into a small time period. Although ill-advised for presenters to read presentations, there are two important reasons to put down those notes (and stop reading your visual aid’s slides).
1) Lack Engagement – While a presenter’s eyes look at that piece of paper, the audience, who sacrificed a lot to attend, grows frustrated from being ignored. When a presenter utilizes eye contact, the audience feels like they’re in a conversation with the speaker, even in a large auditorium. Good eye contact establishes a relationship with the audience and makes the presenter’s message more compelling. (If you’re new at presenting, it may surprise you that eye contact with your audience will actually help you calm your fears.)
2) Lose Credibility – Being perceived as the expert is one of the greatest benefits of presenting. When a presenter reads from notes or the slides on the screen, he/she appears not to be ready, or worse, not the expert. The audience will start to doubt the speaker’s expertise in the subject matter because someone else could have written the presentation. (This is why I guide my clients in developing their own presentations instead of having me create it for them.)
Do yourself a huge favor and practice your presentation well enough that you don’t have to read your notes. Slowly wean yourself off the notes as you rehearse your presentation. If you need to hold your notes as a “security blanket”, that is okay. (Next week, I’ll share a story about a famous presenter that always has his notes in front of him.)
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How Speak Simple Can Help You
Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being a good presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.