Presentations and talking to groups

Presentations and talking to groups

Talking directly to people in their own setting is a good way of getting information across and building an ongoing relationship. For anyone considering giving a presentation or talking to groups, preparation is the key.

  • Time to do: Preparation time is the key in ensuring the success of the presentation. Don’t underestimate how long it can take. Rules of thumb for preparation times vary anywhere between 4 and 10 times the length of the presentation itself
  • Staff: minimum of 1; more speakers add interest - and time!
  • Cost: £
  • Equipment: at a minimum you should use a microphone so that everyone can hear properly, even in smaller settings; computer and projection equipment; check internet connection and speakers if planning to stream video
  • small groups
  • large groups
  • face-to-face
  • at a distance (using video-conferencing or webinar technology)

How to do it

  • Make sure you are clear about the purpose of your presentation.
  • Confirm how much time you'll have and adjust your presentation to fit.
  • Know your audience and tailor the presentation, materials and language to them.
  • Make a list of points you want to get across and what you need to find out from the audience. You can never be too prepared!
  • Structure your presentation: ideally it should include an introduction, main body and a conclusion. Grab attention at the beginning with an interesting anecdote and close with a dynamic end like a concise quotation or a statement the audience will remember.
  • Consider using supporting materials: notes, hand-outs, slides and visuals. If possible, send digital copies to participants in advance of the meeting to reduce the environmental impact.
  • Make sure your presentation and any supporting materials are free from acronyms and jargon.
  • If appropriate, think about the 'ground rules' you will introduce to the audience before your presentation: can they ask questions any time or at the end of the session? What about confidentiality and respecting other people's opinions?
  • Use clear language, ask questions to involve the audience along the way and check regularly to make sure they are following.
  • Be aware of your body language. Non-verbal communication can be just as important as the message you deliver.
  • Try not to read from the script as it can limit the interpersonal connection. Have a brief outline handy to help if memory fails and try to maintain eye contact to engage the audience.
  • Prepare to be flexible. Focus on priorities if you're running out of time or have prompt questions ready to keep the conversation going if you have time to spare.

Advantages

  • Meeting people at a time and place that suits them and where they feel comfortable
  • Builds trust and ongoing relationships with groups and individuals
  • Minimal resources required

Challenges

  • Participants can lose focus if a presentation is long or the presenter reads from the script. Try to think of ways to engage your audience.
  • You may need to 'think on your feet', particularly if unexpected questions come up or you have challenging or negative individuals in the group – don't be afraid to admit if you don't know the answer and offer to get back to them after you find out more information. Stay positive, patient and professional.
  • Always bear in mind that technology can fail at the last minute. Could you still deliver your talk without slides?
  • Difficult to predict how long it will take. Influencing factors can include personalities within your audience, the volume of questions, special requirements and so on.
Last Updated: 13 March 2020
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