Winning Presentations Made Easy (ish)
You may have had this nightmare: you’re giving a presentation to a room full of influential people, when you suddenly realise you’re naked and they all start laughing at you. Although pure fantasy, the feelings of dread are real enough and afflict many. Fortunately, by following a few simple guidelines, you’ll be able to engage, inform and interact like a pro.
What you deliver should be fit for purpose. You must tailor the content to meet the needs of the people attending. For instance, someone selling mediation training to a group of NHS consultants would highlight how these techniques could avoid litigation, whereas to a group of sales executives, the talk would be on how successful contracts could be negotiated.
The mediation skills are always the same but the purpose will vary. This way, you’re engaging your audience with relevant topics.
Timing and Delivery
Studies show that if someone is interested in what’s being said, h/she will focus for a maximum of seven to ten minutes, so it’s probably best to keep it to five. The ideal length for a presentation is under thirty minutes. You can deliver quite a lot in that time, if you keep it to key points. You will need audio/visual segments and interactive tasks (but nothing that makes people feel uncomfortable or is mandatory).
The worst and most common mistake, is to produce a long PowerPoint presentation (regardless of how many special effects and cool backgrounds) and then recite the content verbatim. Unless your attendees are visually impaired or illiterate, they can read the slides themselves. Instead, elaborate further or ask questions.
Short clips of video to illustrate a point are a great way to avoid monotony. A concise handout of key points is always useful, which also serves as a reminder about what you have to offer. Video your practice sessions, so you can spot any odd facial expressions or hand gestures.
Try some yoga breathing beforehand to slow your heart rate and then start with a joke, to break the ice. Keep your speech steady, as people speed up when nervous. Keep water on hand, as fear reduces saliva. Remember to stand tall, relax the shoulders and smile.
Many venues have laptops and projectors but these will need testing beforehand. It’s always prudent to bring your own – just in case. Bring two pen drives with your presentation loaded.
One tool that is essential for effective interaction is a white board. It’s a great visual aid for a Q & A session. It can also help illustrate key information. Hopefully your venue will supply one but if not, Adboards have a great selection of portable white boards and flip charts.
Provide pens and paper for attendees, in case they wish to make notes. If you’re promoting a product, have some on display. If size prohibits this, bring samples of components or even a scale model. And of course, don’t forget a succinct handout.
Although you may never look forward to giving a presentation or seminar, these guidelines should at least make your delivery respectable.
Cover photo credit: Martin Gillet / Flickr
Please share this post...