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Ready, Set, Present!

Training for Growth
By Sherri McMillan, MSc, and Alex McMillan

Ready, Set, Present!
To ensure success, follow these guidelines before each presentation.

Become Familiar With the Environment
Ask how the room will be set up. Will there be tables and chairs? Will the presentation be lecture style or “in the round”? Find out about any potential problems, such as distractions or poor acoustics, that may affect the flow of your session, and look for ways to manage them.

Know Your Audience
Understanding your audience’s expectations is crucial. Thoroughly research the group you’re going to speak to. Meet with the event organizer to discover what kind of information the group wants to walk away with. To get additional feedback, ask for the names and numbers of some of the people who will be attending. Here are some questions you might ask: I Does the audience have any knowledge of the subject matter? If the group is just being introduced to health and fitness, you’ll spend most of your time on the basics. If attendees are well informed in this area, you can cover advanced material. I Does the audience come from an academic background? If so, you can use more sophisticated language and move along more quickly. I Is the group relaxed or serious? This will help you determine how you can use humor and the types of interactive drills you might choose. I What attire is appropriate? For a fitness presentation, you will most likely wear a professional tracksuit. However, in some situations, business attire may be more appropriate. I Are there sensitive topics you should avoid discussing? Performing this research with attendees has an additional benefit: It will give you an opportunity to make friends! To increase your confidence, you can seat the people you have spoken to where you can make eye contact with them.

Determine Your Audiovisual Needs
Different people learn in different ways– by seeing, hearing, reading and/or doing. Think carefully about how you can incorporate all these learning styles in your presentation. Determine which equipment to use to provide visual stimulation: a flip chart, an overhead projector or a data projector. If you plan to show a video, make sure the room has VCR capabilities. You might also request a CD player so you can play music as people are entering.

entation. Preparing is not that difficult if you follow these steps: I Establish your objectives. I Determine two to three important points you want to cover. I Develop the material to support your points. I Write an opening that captures the audience’s interest. I Prepare the closing. Many experienced speakers use humor to start or finish a presentation. Humor is most effective when you can relate it to your topic. Start collecting cartoons or jokes that help support your subject matter.

Incorporate an Interactive Break
Most people can’t sit still for long periods of time, so incorporating a brief break that gets people up and interacting with each other is a good idea. You can use a traditional icebreaker drill or design a unique one that emphasizes a point in your material. Lead the group in a mini fitness class, or have them get up and stretch for a few seconds. If you want to encourage audience interaction with your presentation, try friendly “bribes.” For example, give a T-shirt or water bottle to everyone who raises his or her hand or calls out an answer.

Respect Your Boundaries
Be prepared for questions that are outside your level of expertise. It’s fine to admit that you are not qualified to answer certain questions; just have a network of resources the audience can use to find the information. For example, someone may say,”I always get this pain down the middle of my back that goes into my leg. What should I do?” You could respond, “Your symptoms could be caused by a variety of things. I’m not trained in diagnosis and don’t want to overstep my boundaries. However, I know a physician who specializes in back care. Come see me after the session, and I’ll give you his number.”

Practice Your Material
Practice your presentation in front of a trial audience. (Friends and family members are great candidates.) Fine-tune your timing and flow. Determine whether you have the right amount of material. (Most first-time presenters prepare too much material and then try to rush through everything.) Try out your jokes and interactive breaks to ensure they work. Have

Prepare Your Presentation
You and the event organizer have undoubtedly chosen a topic for your pres-

Ju n e 2 0 0 5 ID E A Tr a i n e r S u c c e ss


Sherri McMillan, MS

Sherri McMillan, MSc, has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for 30 years, and has received numerous industry awards, including the 2010 canfitpro International Fitness Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and 1998 canfitpro Fitness Presenter of the Year. She is an international fitness presenter, personal trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals, including Go For Fit: The Winning Way to Fat Loss, Fit Over Forty, and The Successful Trainers Guide to Marketing, and a featured presenter in various fitness DVDs.

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