1. Campbell, Gladys RN, MSN

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Q I was recently asked to deliver a professional podium presentation. I'm knowledgeable on the subject, but I'm scared to speak in front of a group. Do you have any pointers for a novice presenter?

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Expanding your career into the arena of public speaking is frightening to all first timers, but it can create a rewarding addition to your professional life. To be successful in this adventure will take study, discipline, courage, and practice. Know that no one begins public speaking with confidence or perfection.


There are several aspects you can focus on to set yourself up for success:


[diamond operator] Know your subject matter and current literature on the topic. Anticipate potential questions from the audience, including your references for any data you present.


[diamond operator] Know how to develop and use visuals to augment your presentation; for example, PowerPoint slides. There are classes you can take on PowerPoint presentations that may prove helpful as you develop these skills. In general, you want to ensure the font size of your script is readable from all areas of a room and the colors you use project well and provide contrast that's visually appealing. You also want to anticipate using about one slide per minute of your presentation.


[diamond operator] Practice your presentation to not only master your content, but also ensure you'll adhere to the required timeframe. Practicing both in front of a mirror and with an audience of colleagues who'll provide helpful advice will help prepare you.


[diamond operator] Spend extra time thinking about how you want to open your presentation because most audiences will form an opinion of a speaker within 30 seconds. Also, the first few minutes will either put you at ease and give you confidence or make you wonder, "What in the world was I thinking?"


[diamond operator] Some presentation experts also advise that you tell the audience what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. In other words, be clear on your key messages and emphasize those points in your opening, in the body of your presentation, and in your closing.


[diamond operator] Remember to acknowledge and thank your hosts and the audience from the podium.


[diamond operator] Lastly, be kind to yourself. You'll make some mistakes, but with each presentation you'll get better.