Here are some tips on how to make a great presentation:
Know your material and prepare for difficult questions; preparation is key.
Make sure that you have researched the topic thoroughly, and be prepared for all questions – from the simplest to the most difficult ones.
Organisation is essential.
Don’t assume anything. If the venue is booked, confirm the booking. If you send your PowerPoint to the venue (and even get receipt) always also have it on a flash drive / thumb stick as well. Do the same with your introduction; you may have sent it, but doesn’t hurt to have a spare copy on you. Remember Murphy’s law: what can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time.
Be your own stage manager.
Check out the location where you will be presenting; view the setup, test the AV equipment. Ensure you turn up early to ensure everything is working. Part of the stage ‘setting’ is your presentation; your makeup, jewellery, shoes and clothing. Dress the part if you want to be taken seriously.
Be confident – If you know your stuff, then you should be fine.
Try practicing your speech or presentation in front of a mirror a few times. Please avoid reading. If you need notes, ensure these are just dot points to remind you what to say; not the whole speech typed up and ready to be read out loud.
At the start of the presentation, introduce yourself and provide a short story about your background, as well as your experience in the field, so that your audience will know that you are qualified to give a presentation about the topic. Ideally have someone else introduce you and deliver this bio.
State your objectives and state your goals on why you are presenting, and stick to that goal.
If the audience knows the purpose of the presentation, it will be easier for them to relate the goals to what you’re discussing. Essentially you are summarising what you will be speaking about.
Creating good looking visuals.
Most people are visual learners, and they will be more interested in your presentation if you use quality and visible images and data points. Ensure all PowerPoints are branded to your business as are all handouts. On PowerPoints, remember the “less is more” motto; just dot points on each slide and don’t have so many slides that people will be overwhelmed or put to sleep.
Use supporting materials.
Include information that are relevant to your topic, and make sure they’re from a credible source.
Add a bit of humour.
Use a few humorous quotes or add some humour throughout the presentation to keep your audience interested and entertained. Be a real person, engaging and approachable; not a lecturer.
Ask questions that provoke thinking.
Asking a question like, “Have you ever…?” or “How much longer…?”, and using statements like, “You may be wondering why…” will get your audience thinking, and make your presentation more interactive. You are involving your audience and engaging them.
Connect with your audience using body language.
Use facial expressions, hand gestures and keep eye contact to connect to your audience. This is a whole subject in its own right. In communication only 8% is the words we say, the rest (body language, tone, intonation etc) form the rest. To super briefly cover, here are the top pointers:
- Don’t cross your arms
- Stand straight, head high
- Look at your audience and smile
- Open hands
- Not too many hand gestures (typical of the ladies, not just Italians)
- No hands in pockets (habit of many men)
When presenting, make it seem like you’re telling a story, and include experiences that the audience can relate to. Make sure that audiences who are not familiar with the topic will still be able to understand you. If your story has a negative aspect, ensure it doesn’t finish on the low.
Get to the point.
Show your audience what’s relevant and get to your point before they become bored.
Keep your energy level high.
Nothing is more boring than a presenter who has no energy at all. Be aware of your tone of voice and energy levels and keep them high.
Don’t pretend that you know something when you don’t. Know your own personal style of presenting. Presentation styles may not work for everyone, just be yourself and be genuine.
Audiences may have questions and make sure they know that there’s an allotted time for questions after, to promote interaction. Have some questions ready if no-one asks, or prep some “helpers” in the audience to have questions ready for you. Alternatively you may start with “I usually get asked ….”. Don’t just stand there waiting in silence for a question to come … it may not.
Prepare a closing speech.
After the Q&A, include a short closing. Summarize with just a few key points and how the objectives (at the start) were addressed through your presentation. Know your objective; is it to educate, get people to participate in a project, or something else? Be clear about your objective and of course, be sure to round off you presentation by being clear with what you want your audience to do next.
Presenting is a developed skill; if you are uncomfortable doing it, practice. Business networking groups or Toastmasters are great ways to hone those skills and once you do; keep in practice by regularly volunteering to present … it’s great practice and great exposure. Call me on 0411 622 666 if you need more leadership coaching.