Know your Audience
Determine in advance the size of the audience, who they are, their background, their knowledge of the topic, their opinions on the subject.
Remember, in the back of their minds, the audience will be asking, "What’s In It For Me?" It’s your task to answer that question.
Prepare Your Remarks
Clarify your goal – what are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to persuade people to agree with what the industry is doing, or will you ask them to take a specific action (i.e. start a recycling program that includes plastics)?
Select three main points, called "message points," you want your audience to remember.
Tell the audience why the material you are presenting is important to them.
Avoid Technical Language
Try not to use technical language, confusing numbers and industry slang. Use terms the audience can understand.
Prepare Audio/Visual Aids
Consider using slides, overheads and videos, as well as information packets and copies or summaries of your remarks.
Practice, Practice, Practice
It is crucial to practice your presentation out loud. Enough practice will allow you to deliver your speech without reading it word for word – with practice, you can use your text or notes simply to jog your memory. Unfortunately, when people read their speeches, most lose their audiences’ attention because they use a monotone and fail to maintain eye contact.
If using audio/visual materials, practice with them. Do not simply read the slides on the screen – your audience will automatically do that. Talk about the points they make.
Consider tape recording your practice session to see what improvements you can make. If you have access to videotape equipment, make and view a video of your speech.
Nervous? While you won’t get rid of the butterflies, you can get them to "fly in formation" if you know and rehearse your material.
Review Questions and Answers
Practice answers to both the difficult and the easy questions you are likely to get. Have someone else also think of questions and practice with you.
Arrive early and try out the microphone, lights and any audio/visual equipment. Many presentations are ruined when the light bulb dies, so be sure to have an extra light bulb for the slide or overhead projector.
Keep Your Remarks Brief
Keep your remarks brief, and leave time for questions.
At the end, briefly summarize your main points and restate your messages. If you want them to take action, tell them what you want them to do and offer to help them to do it.
Arranging Speaking Opportunities
Often, how you look and sound has more impact on listeners than the actual words you speak: