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The Only Presentation Hacks You Need

Whether you have had two weeks or two hours to prepare for a presentation, it is still as daunting as ever to stand up and speak to a room full of people.

We have done our research here at MeetingsBooker.com by finding out ways to make you a better speaker and how to make sure that you have solid content to back you up!


Find your confidence

The secret to a great presentation is to think of it as two way communication.
Turn your presentation into a conversation and your confidence will soar.


Include elements such as questions for the audience to break the barrier and to make it seem less like a presentation and more like a chat.


If you turn your thought process to talking with your audience rather than at them, it will become a lot less daunting.


Don’t be boring

Keep what you’re saying concise.
A person can only concentrate for so long. Reciting long worded paragraphs are hard to follow and will bore your audience.

Studies show that a speaker will gain 100% attention from their audience at the end of a presentation - when they get to leave.



                            

Try not to get offended but it’s simply human nature. This is why it is important to keep your points short so that there is less content for your audience to lose track of!


Think about your slides

Use brief sentences not paragraphs. Include visual elements like graphs. 

Having a slide presentation is a great way to illustrate what you’re talking about and they are a great way to help you remember your points.

 
Slides are there to show something and you are there to explain.

If you rely on your slides too much however, you can come across as impersonal. Face your audience, not your slides. You want your audience to feel a part of the presentation.


Something simple like having a consistent colour theme throughout your slides is a nice touch to give your presentation some life. You can choose from a selection of templates if you are less artistically inclined, but remember, having too many elements can be overkill and can overload your audience’s thought process. So, work on finding the right balance.

Find a pair of eyes
Only talk when you have a pair of eyes.

If you are always worried about where to look at a presentation you can end up looking like a mad person with your eyes flying around the room or worse yet, staring down the back wall.

Don’t linger. No one likes a prolonged staring session so make sure to change your eyeline. Changing after a sentence, or every few sentences, will allow you to pay attention to someone else in the audience and, by following the rule, it allows you to have a pause while you look for your next pair of eyes.

Stop saying ‘eh’ & ‘um’
This and the last point go hand in hand.

There is something in our mental make-up, that means that we stop saying ‘eh’ and ‘um’ when we hold eye contact. So, following number two will help you with this.

However, there is another time where you must be careful using the dreaded break words and this is, naturally, when you take a break to look back at your slides.


As said earlier, slides are a great way for you to remember your points - there is no shame in using your slides as a cheat sheet. To stop saying eh and um, turn back to remind yourself of what you’re saying, but then only speak your point once you’ve found a pair of eyes again.

Stop the fidgeting
Keep your hands down by your side.

Fidgeting can make you look nervous which will the attention away from what you’re saying. An audience will feel more concerned about what your hands are doing and how nervous you are. Yes, you may feel like a soldier with your arms pinned to your side, but it is the stance that will look most neutral and will definitely stop you from fidgeting.  


You don’t have to keep your arms pinned the entire time in fact, having your arms by your side allows you to make greater, more effective gestures when needed.

Dress appropriately
Present yourself well for a presentation.

Be clean. Be Neat. There is nothing worse watching a person talk who is unclean looking - let the audience concentrate on what you’re saying rather than on unshaven face or make-up stained collar.

Something as unfortunate as an unzipped trouser, allows the audience’s minds to wander and criticise what they’re looking at rather than what they’re listening to.

Did you know that patterns promote brain activity? So don’t be afraid to dress in loud clothing.

Content content content…
Try keep attention as high as possible throughout your entire presentation. 

The content you deliver can increase your audience’s attention span. Your presentation may still drop at points, but you can pick it back up by following the triangle.

                                

Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.

Once you follow this mantra your content will remain engaging throughout.


  • The middle of the triangle holds your topic.

  • You need three main points to carry your topic written on each side of the triangle.

  • Each point can have sub-points for you to delve into further, but once you have those three points laid out you can create a steady flow of thought.



Whichever point comes to mind first is going to be the most easily accessible one for you to talk about, so don’t be afraid to put it down. Then, all you have to do is remember to tell your audience about the topic; talk about each point; recap your topic and each point.



Once you have the body language down, what you’re saying becomes a lot easier to say. Just remember, keep it concise, tell them what you you’re going to say, tell them, tell them what you told them (and tell it to a pair of eyes!)


Meetings 101

Welcome to Meetings 101...

For a some people, holding a meeting is almost like second nature, but there are plenty of others who don’t find it quite as easy. As a member of the ‘second nature’ group, we have decided to share our MeetingsBooker.com knowhow.


Generally those who find great difficulty in conducting a meeting, are missing out on a few simple, but essential, elements which can help achieve their desired result.


The Basics

To meet or not to meet?

Meetings are effective when they are carried out at the right time. Don’t oversaturate your workplace with meetings. Fewer meetings with more topics will help you save time and will get most things dealt with in one sitting.


The exception to the rule is if you feel something cannot wait until your next meeting. In this case, hold an emergency general meeting (EGM). Deal solely with the urgent topic and keep all else until your next scheduled meeting.


Confidence - a meeting must have

Meetings are the perfect opportunity to show your leadership and communication skills so make sure you have confidence in what you’re delivering. Having confidence, or a lack of, can make or break a great meeting leader. If you speak with confidence, your audience will have confidence in what you’re saying.


Two easy steps to convey confidence:
1) Do not bury your face in your notes - speak only when you have a pair of eyes. Making eye contact with your audience members will allow them to see that you aren’t afraid to speak to them. They will be more inclined to listen if they feel you are delivering to them rather than to a sheet of paper. Added to this, speaking only when you have a pair of eyes combats speech slurs such as ‘eh’ and ‘um’. (Trust us.)


2) Unless you need to gesture to something, keep your arms by your side to combat fidgeting. Fidgeting with your hands can convey a sense of nervousness which can unsettle an audience.

(Click here for more presentation tips.)


The Paperwork

Agenda - Preparation is everything.
All meetings should have an agenda i.e a list which outlines each topic you plan to discuss.

  • You should share your agenda with attendees a few days before the meeting. This means that people have time to prepare or suggest changes to the topics.

  • You can include a few topics in your agenda but make sure there is one main focus of the meeting - without a focus, the meeting will be a waste of time.

  • Make sure to include ‘Any Other Business’ (AOB) in your agenda so that other last minute topics can be brought up too.

  • Don’t forget to begin with the minutes of the last meeting i.e briefly recap on what was discussed at the last meeting.

  • Above all, make sure you stick to your agenda during the meeting.


Minutes - Keeping a record.
Minutes, in short, are notes taken during a meeting

  • There should be a designated minute taker at every meeting.

  • You can choose to write them, tape record them or both, just once they’re being taken.

  • Written minutes shouldn’t include entire sentences of what people have said, but rather general observations that have been made regarding the topic and, of course, the result of the discussion.

  • Any topic or tasks given, which have to be reviewed at the next meeting should also be included in the minutes.

  • Minutes of the last meeting should be read out at the start of the next meeting, but it is important to review them before the next meeting happens. This is to ensure that any issue or action to be dealt with before the next meeting is dealt with.


The People

Choose your attendees.

When it comes to holding a meeting you need to make sure to invite the relevant people, but also be wary of leaving people out.


For example, if you wish to have a managers only meeting you should ensure that each manager has had at least one meeting with their department beforehand. This allows each manager to prepare topics for, and report any issues at, the manager’s meeting. It is their duty to make sure that everyone, who has an opinion, is heard and that it is brought to the attention of higher management.


Decisions, decisions...

Unless your meeting is specifically happening solely to communicate a message, decisions to be made, should be made at the meeting.


  • If the relevant people / the people who know most about the issue aren’t there, make a note. Make sure that it is dealt with before the next meeting.  

  • Delegate tasks to be completed so that people know what to be doing until the next meeting.


Where to sit?

Choosing what size room and seating layout you need all depends on the amount of people attending your meeting. MeetingsBooker.com allows you to input your exact amount of attendees and shows you the best suited rooms and layouts available.

Room layout also need to be considered when it comes to the nature of the meeting. For example, if your meeting includes a presentation, a seating plan which allows everyone to see the presenter / screen should be chosen.

(Click here to read more about seating plans.) 


The Extras

Time to impress.

When you have outside clients coming in for a meeting you may have to bring out the big guns.


Agenda, minutes etc all still apply, but you need a few more
flourishes.

  • Make sure there are plenty of pens and notepads in your meeting room

  • Have a selection of water, tea & coffee

  • If it is due to be a long meeting, arrange some sort of catering

  • If you intend on making a presentation, have some hard copies printed to hand out for two reasons:
    1) It allows everyone to have a closer look.
    2) If you need a computer & projector to present and there is a technical mishap, you will have something to go by.

  • Having the wifi password displayed in the room is a handy flourish for your outside attendees. They may need to access the internet for their own presentation needs.

  • For larger meeting events you may have a particular seating arrangement so make sure you have names displayed on chairs / desks.

Break it up.

For long meetings, break it up a bit with some exercises such as brainstorming or team building activities to keep everyone awake and participating.


If you are entertaining outside guests, you could arrange to give a tour of the building for example.


How did it go?

While you’re still getting the hang of things a good idea is to conduct a short survey after the meeting.

Asking people what they thought of the meeting can help you improve your next meetings and see what really works. You can simply ask a few colleagues what they thought rather than preparing a full survey to print out after each meeting.


This is a good idea for even when you do get the hang of things, as it will allow you to continue to keep ontop of things.


Examples of questions: Did we stick to the agenda?; Were there any challenges & how well or badly were they handled?; What should be done differently for the next meeting?; Did anything unexpected happen?; What needs more prep?

The Ultimate Tip

Turn your presentation into a conversation.

This goes hand in hand with having confidence. When you turn your thought process to talking with people rather than at them you can hugely improve the effectiveness of your meeting.

To be effective, your audience has to not only absorb what you’re saying, but also understand it. Afterall, a meeting or presentation is pointless if no one gets it.

Begin by thinking of presentations and meetings as two way communication. You need to pay your audience as much attention as they do you.


With a combination of all or most of these elements you will be able to hold a seamless meeting, every time.

If you still need some more meeting know-how, click here for Meeting Don't's!

Have You Tried These Five Great Meeting Ice-Breakers?

Icebreakers are without a doubt one of the best ways to kick off a meeting or conference. Not only do they help attendees get to know one another, they’re also fun and a good way to get people relaxed and ready for the important stuff.

Let’s have a look at five of the best icebreakers you can use to shake up your next meeting!

1. Two Truths and a Lie



This is a great one for getting to know one another and have a bit of fun. Depending on the size of your meeting, divide delegates into groups of around five to ten people, and—you guessed it—get them to write down two things about themselves that are true, along with one lie.

The group can then ask questions of one another to try to deduce which are the truths and which is the lie. At the end, everyone can vote for which they thought each statement was, and the delegate can then reveal the truths and lie.

2. Did You See It?


We think this one would work well in a team-meeting environment. Every day, employees will walk into their office and take in little or nothing of their immediate surroundings! They pass the same things every day, taking the same route to their desk which will more than likely look exactly the same.

To see how much attention your team pay to their surroundings, write up some questions such as “Who was working on reception today? What were they wearing?” Most people will find these sorts of questions surprisingly hard, and will no doubt lead to a lot of red-faces and giggles!

3. Your Worst Job


A terrible job; we’ve all had at least one at some point in our lives! Best for small to medium sized meetings, ask each attendee what their worst job was. As each person tells the tale of their woeful employment experiences, they can compete to see who really had it worst!

Not only will employees get to have a laugh at one another’s expense, they’ll (hopefully!) be reminded of how glad they are to be working in their current job.

4. Skittles


Not the game that might first have popped into your head, this version of skittles will take a little bit of preparation. This is a good way to encourage attendees to get to know one another, and it involves six questions and a bowl full of skittles!

Write down a question that correlates to the colour of each respective sweet, for example, orange could be your favourite book or movie, green could be your favourite work party and yellow could be your favourite thing to do during the workday to keep yourself motivated. Each attendee can choose a colour at random and then pass the bowl around until everyone has had a chance to answer a few questions; a sure-fire way to get the meeting started on a positive note whilst getting to know each other a little better.

5. Speed Dating


Perfect for large meetings or conferences, this is speed-dating without the… dating. We all know how speed-dating works; one group of people move around the room in a linear fashion whilst the other group remain seated where they are. One member from each group can spend a set amount of time (2-5 minutes) asking one another questions and just having a general chat where they get to know each other.

Use this icebreaker to get everyone comfortable with each other in a quick and efficient way that can also be very fun, with even the shyest of attendees being encouraged to have an informal chat with a new person for a short time.

Have you ever used any of these meeting icebreakers? Or have you any others that you'd like to share? Let us know what you like to do to start off your meetings and conferences on a positive note!