Have you got a presentation coming up? Are you concerned about how it will go? I expect we have all been to a presentation where within minutes our mind has started to wander and our only thought is – when will this end? So how do you avoid inflicting this experience on your audience? The ten great tips in this article will enable you to create and deliver a powerful presentation.
In any presentation you do, start with the purpose. What is it you want from your audience as a result of your presentation? Agreement to your recommendations? Or their views on your proposal? Make your purpose explicit at the start, that way your audience are tuned in for what you want from them.
Straight after you have given your purpose make sure you explain to your audience what the benefit of the presentation is for them. For example it may be that it will give them the opportunity to influence the proposals for a £ 1m project spend. Or it may be that by agreeing to your proposals the company will £ save 600k per annum. Wherever possible quantify the benefit in some way. Your audience now know what you want from them and the benefit of the presentation for them, so they should be onside and tuned in.
Structure and Time
Next give your audience what the presentation will cover and in what order. Then let them know how long it will take. Be sure to cover how you want to handle questions – on the way through, or at the end. As a general rule no presentation should last for more than 20 minutes. People tend to lose concentration within 5 minutes! If you have a lot of information to impart consider having a detailed handout that you can distribute at the end. When making a presentation time for audience questions. This will be your chance to see how well they have understood your points and a chance for you to clarify any misunderstandings.
If you are using slides keep the maximum number of points per slide to five. Present using bullet points and not paragraphs. Remember the presentation is for your audience, not to provide you with a script. Keep the number of slides you use to the absolute minimum.
Ensure you find ways to interact with your audience. You could for example ask for views on a particular point, or ask for their experience on a topic. During the presentation use we rather than you and I, eg I'm sure we would all agree; not, I'm sure you would agree.
Practice Practice Practice
Great presenters make it all look very natural and easy. However if you ask them you will find that they rehearse their presentation aloud at least three times before doing it live. This way they are confident that they know the content and can focus on delivering it in a polished and professional way. If you do this you too will find that you are far more confident, less hesitant and able to project yourself and your proposals in a powerful manner.
Another good reason for rehearsal is that it allows you to time your presentation. There is nothing worse than your audience discovering that what was due to be a 20 minute presentation drags on for 40 minutes. They may have other things they had planned to do. If you do this when presenting as part of an interview process there is a good chance the recruiter will fail you. It shows a lack of planning and organisation on your part. These may be important skills in the job for which you are applying.
It's a good idea to have some kind of handout that summarises the presentation. Tell people you will circulate this after the presentation – it avoids them taking needless notes. Never give out a copy of your slides before you start or during your presentation. This will lead to your audience running through your slides ahead of you and they will not be paying attention to what you are saying.
Check Out the Room
Before the day check the room for your presentation. How will the audience seating be arranged? Will everyone be able to see and hear you?
Format and Design
What may look brilliant on your laptop as a power point presentation may not be so good for the person sitting furthest away from you. Avoid dark backgrounds and too much coloured writing – this can make slides really hard to see from a distance. Try out your presentation in a room of the same size as the one you will be using. Make sure everyone will be able to see what's on your slides.
As a professional Executive Coach I have worked with many Managers to build their presentation skills. By following these ten tips you will keep your audience's attention and have a successful presentation. You will come across in a confident, but relaxed and professional way.
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