Make Better Presentations with 10 Powerful Tips

Imagine if you could make great presentations. I’m not talking about merely good speeches. Instead, I’m speaking of truly memorable, meaningful, influential presentations at staff meetings, board meetings, professional conferences, and gatherings of prospects and donors.

Would taking your presentations to the next level help you more effectively guide your staff, inform your board, teach your colleagues, and inspire your prospects and donors? You bet it would. It might even earn you a promotion or better job.

Decades ago when I first began teaching at fundraising conferences, I asked Ted Hart, ACFRE, now the CEO of the Charities Aid Foundation of America, for some helpful tips. He told me, “If you want above average evaluation scores, start on time, end on time, and speak to the topic that the program book says you’ll be addressing.”

At first, I thought Ted was setting the bar a bit low. However, in practice, I discovered he had shared some essential, fundamental advice that I’ve always appreciated. Over the years, my evaluation scores improved as my speaking skills developed. As I became a more proficient presenter, the scores and comments I received from my audiences were usually quite good.

However, I still was not satisfied.

I do not want my audiences to simply enjoy my seminars in the moment. I want them to also remember and use the information I share when they get back to their offices.

Michael Rosen at PPGGNY Conference, starting at the podium before speaking from the audience during his keynote address.

Michael Rosen at PPGGNY Conference, starting at the podium before speaking from the audience during his keynote address.

Then, in 2006, I heard about a special educational program from the Association of Fundraising ProfessionalsThe Faculty Training Academy. AFP offers the program to teach good speakers advanced presentation skills. In short, the program was the most transformational workshop I’ve ever attended.

You now have an opportunity to have a similarly meaningful experience by being one of just 35 participants in the next Faculty Training Academy. The program will be held at AFP International Headquarters in Arlington, VA on March 30-31, 2017. The two-day, intensive workshop will teach attendees about adult education principles, learning styles, classroom management, assessment, and other related topics. AFP encourages fundraising professionals, with extensive experience who are also members of AFP, to learn more about the program by clicking here.

It’s a chance for you to learn how to be a more effective, inspirational public speaker.

Dr. B.J. Bischoff, of Bischoff Performance Improvement Consulting, will again facilitate the program she created for AFP over 15 years ago. Bischoff has also presented at the AFP International Fundraising Conference and Leadership Academies. She has also designed and presented train-the-trainers programs for the Fund Raising School at Indiana University, the US Central Intelligence Agency, the United States Agency for International Development, the Government of Romania, the World Bank, and many other nonprofit and government funded organizations.

Recognizing that not all of my readers will be able to attend the Faculty Training Academy, Bischoff has kindly provided a list of 10 powerful tips that will make you a far better presenter, no matter how good you already are:

1. Greet ALL participants as they arrive to establish a connection — even if it’s a large ballroom, stand close to the door and welcome people as they arrive…that being said…

2. Get to the training facility an hour before you have to start so you have time to greet everyone as they arrive and people don’t see you setting up while they are arriving.

3. Use body language to manage participants engaged in side conversations. To do that, make sure you use all parts of the room early on, instead of standing in one place. That way, it won’t be so obvious when you walk toward two people who are talking to quiet them subconsciously by just being in their personal space.

4. Kiss the podium good-bye! You don’t need it. It’s just a barrier between you and the participants.

5. Don’t apologize if you forget to mention a key point…just mention it at another time. The participants don’t know that you forgot to mention it.

6. If you drop a marker on the floor or a flipchart sheet falls off the wall–ignore it and get these items at a break…don’t take time away from participants’ learning time to fix small distractions like that.

7. If you get nervous when you are presenting, it’s because you are focusing on yourself and not on your learners…focus on the learners and imagine that you are having a personal conversation with each one of them…don’t think of it as a big presentation for a lot of people.

8. People remember the first and the last thing you say, so start and end with a bang, not a whimper.

9. If you can have someone else introduce you to the audience instead of having to introduce yourself, your credibility will increase automatically.

10. If you are showing a very detailed graph as part of your PowerPoint presentation and find yourself saying, “I know you can’t see this, but…” that means you shouldn’t be using it at all. Break the one chart into three or four separate charts with larger type on each.”

If you want to enhance your presentation skills, the AFP Faculty Training Academy is a wonderful opportunity. Another excellent resource are the books about presenting by Jerry Weissman. In particular, you might want to check out The Power Presenter.

Here’s another idea: When you’re looking for a speaker for your organization or professional association, seek out alumni of the AFP Faculty Training Academy. It’s an excellent way to ensure you’ll be lining up a superb presenter.

What is your favorite book about public speaking? What great presentation tips have you picked up in your career?

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

6 Comments to “Make Better Presentations with 10 Powerful Tips”

  1. Very excited to read this as I am already registered for the FTA in March. I enjoy your blog, I always find very helpful and useful information. In fact, I quote you a lot in the presentations and trainings that I do!

  2. This is a great list; thank you for posting it and highlighting the Faculty Training Academy – I was not aware they were doing it. I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the last couple of years and one common issue I see time and time and time again – microphones. If they provide a microphone, use it. At least 50 percent of the sessions the speakers will say, “I have a loud voice, I don’t need it.” I’ve missed a whole lot of good content because you can’t hear the speaker and you have to keep saying, “We can’t hear you!” Especially in these large conference rooms where if you’re on time, you’re late and you have to stand in the back.

    • Clay, thank you for your comment and additional tip for speakers. I hate being a tied to a podium mic or having to carrying around a hand-held. So, whenever I speak, I’m usually very insistent on being provided a wireless lavaliere mic. This allows me to roam the room while speaking while leaving my hands free. It also avoids the tripping hazard associated with a mic on a long cord.

      Your mention of speakers who do not use any mic reminds me of one of my favorite lines from such speakers: “Can everybody hear me?” I always laugh at this one because how can someone answer if they can’t hear the speaker? Stupid!

  3. Excellent points, Michael. Thanks for sharing. Adults learn best when they can see the value for themselves, so I try to structure my talks so my audience can see how they can benefit.

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