Just as diamonds are a girl’s best friend, presentation tools are the “bling” that every speaker needs in his or her collection of must-have communication resources.
Everyone has favorite tools that they rely upon to help them effectively deliver their message and connect with their audience. Recently, I reached out to some accomplished speakers to find out about the tools and resources they consider essential to presentation success. Here is their tried-and-true advice.
Timing is everything
Helen Moses, President of Toastmasters International’s Raleigh Club (Raleigh, NC), uses these key tools and strategies to perfect her timing on stage:
- Smartphone timer. When you’re practicing, use a timer on your phone to make sure you are staying within the allotted time.
- A clock you can see. This is so simple, yet so important! Make sure a clock is visible from the stage where you will be presenting, so you can stay on track.
ANOTHER TIP FROM HELEN ABOUT TIMING: “Getting your timing right is not just about YOUR time, it’s about giving your audience something that’s worthy of THEIR time. To make sure you do, research your audience in advance of the presentation. When you step up to speak, consider asking informative questions as part of your opening comments to discover what they already know about your topic.”
Take control of your gear and your presentation
“While I like to think of myself as able to go with the flow, I really like to be in control!” says Lee Tyler, Distinguished Toastmaster from In Good Company Toastmasters in Raleigh, NC. “To that end, when speaking before a group I will do anything I can to eliminate those ‘gotcha’ moments.” Here are Lee’s recommended tools:
- ViewSonic DLP projector and video screen. ViewSonic DLPs offer a bright, clear image. There are several models with a lightweight, portable design, which is important if you’re taking it on the road.
- Logitech remote presenter device. It’s important to choose a “clicker” that works with many different laptops, and this one works with just about everything.
ANOTHER TIP FROM LEE ABOUT GEAR: “Be sure to arrive early to view the presentation area and set up the gear – there is always something that needs adjustment. The better prepared I am, the more confident I am, allowing me the freedom to focus on my audience and give them the best value.”
Prepare to be heard
Yolanda Ratliff, VP of Membership for Purpose Driven Speakers in Raleigh, NC uses tools that make sure the audience is both ready and able to hear her presentation:
- Hands-free cordless microphone (such as Lavaliere). A cordless mic is an indispensable tool to help you connect with your audience. It allows you to get out from behind the podium that separates you from your listeners, without having to raise or project your voice. IMPORTANT: When possible, work with an audio technician just prior to your speech to make sure the mic works properly.
- Ice breakers. Not all the best tools at our disposal are electronic! To warm up the audience and establish a connection, equip yourself with opening comments that grab their attention, such as providing a startling statistic or telling a story about yourself. (For more opener ideas, see “Start Strong! 7 Ways to Grab Your Audience.”
Trust the professionals, and always have a Plan B
What do I rely on most to ensure the success of my presentations?
- The AV professional is your BFF. I make use of AV solutions professionals whenever I can. They can help ensure that you have a reliable network connection and Internet access if you need it. They can also provide access to audience response tools that allow you to extend the conversation and give listeners the ability to provide instant feedback.
- Have a backup! Things go wrong even when you test in advance. If necessary, plan to use a phone hotspot for Internet access, or an internal computer that can get past the firewall.
- Sabrent 4-port USB Hub. I love this for my new Surface Pro that has only one USB port. This handy $5.99 item is a life-saver, allowing you to plug in a clicker, a jump drive (containing your presentation), and still have 2 more USB ports at your disposal. Additionally, the hub rotates so it can work in any situation.
Looking for more great presentation tools? Check out these previous posts:
- 5 Top-Notch Tools to Fine-Tune Your Next Presentation, Part 1
- 5 Top-Notch Tools to Fine-Tune Your Next Presentation, Part 2
- 7 Of My Favorite Presentation Tools
What are your go-to presentation tools and resources? Share your favorites below!