I was asked by my line manager to give a presentation on the parent book club I set up and run on the 18th June 2013 as part of Stellar Libraries Swap Shop at Finsbury Park Library, held to share ideas and case studies for library staff responsible for reader development.
As the information in these slides is now over three years old, and I have written a more up to date an article on this (PMLG Access Journal ISSUE 7 Autumn 2015).
I will include some of these slides as photographs to give a flavour of the presentation by way of illustrating my specific experience of giving a presentation using slides.
I knew I would be presenting a case study that I had initiated and set up and as such I was passionate about telling its story. This really assisted me in feeling confident from the start that I could complete a relatively successful presentation despite my reservations of standing up and talking in a public arena. Time constraints and the audience were bigger factors in making my presentation successful at getting across my message and I knew I would have to overcome problems I had with these prior to making my slides and forming my presentation.
Initially I felt daunted by the prospect as I knew the audience would consist of peers. Knowing that they were attending this meeting because they dealt with reader development in public libraries allowed me to focus the presentation on specifics that would be of interest to the audience, such as funding, logistics and the benefits of/successfully replicating a similar project.
Time constraints was my other concern. I knew I had a 20 minute presentation slot plus questions and answers and I wanted to include slides that clearly got across the point I was trying to make within that time frame.
Although I had a case study as the main ‘story’ of my presentation, I needed the slides to tell that story but include the important points that my audience might be able to utilise. I ended up with around 20 slides (showing one slide every minute should I need to), these were mainly pictures/screen grabs from social media or the virtual book site with a small amount of relevant accompanying text important to the presentation/ flow of the story. I limited the amount of text included in the slides to only what I felt was relevant. I wanted my slides to be engaging and factual, especially so because my timeslot was just before a break and I didn’t want the audience losing interest half way through!
Time also included pace at which I speak! When I get nervous, I know I ramble very quickly and mumble and this whole presentation could have been over with in 5 minutes with the audience not having heard anything I had said!. To allow me to feel more confident, I ended up scripting my presentation and practicing it (with notes on when to change slides) and time myself – It was important for me in this time, not to just rattle through the presentation, but to include pauses, which not only slowed down my presentation, but allowed me to take a few deep breaths and calm down! I ended up practicing my speech so that I knew it inside out. This helped with allowing me to relax when I was on the stage and knowing which slide to click next. It also gave me confidence that I knew where I could locate certain slides if they were mentioned in the Q&A session at the end for an easy flow of communication between the audience.
Slide set out
I tried to make my slides clear and attractive for the audience to view. Because my presentation dealt with a book club that had virtual elements to it, I ensured that when I discussed the virtual part to the book club, all these slides were set out looking the same (all containing the goodreads logo in the top right hand corner, so as to visually differentiate the slides from the non-virtual content of the presentation. See slides below:)
The slides were divided into clear sections that flowed. As my presentation concerned a case study I was able to structure the presentation and slides to include an introduction, aims of the case study followed by thoughts on the case study and a concluding summary. I needed to ensure that I had enough time to cover all my points, and most importantly, have enough time at the end for questions and answers
Knowing my own weaknesses regarding giving presentations (nerves, not liking to be in front of a large audience), It was important for me to feel as calm and in as much control as possible.
Repeated practice of the presentation was important to me and I think the key to me enjoying facilitating the presentation. Prior to the day I even repeated the presentation a few times in front of the mirror to focus on how I would appear to my audience as I wanted to ensure that my posture was friendly and engaging and therefore the focus was on my slides and my accompanying words rather than my awkwardness up on the stage. During the presentation I made sure I moved about on the stage and made (albeit fleeting) eye contact with my audience (event though for the most part I was talking to the blank wall at the back of the room that I pretended was my friend in the pub!) to allow me to engage with my audience as much as possible.
Overall the practice gave me more confidence and this made giving the presentation a more enjoyable for myself. I will attempt to use a similar method in future presentations ( and hope that I’m given enough time to practice beforehand)
What I have not shown is that my final slide that remained on screen contained my contact details and information to allow audience members that didn’t want to ask questions at the time, a way to contact me afterwards. This was useful as I gained 2 enquiring emails a few days after my presentation was given.