Giving a great presentation can be the difference between a number of variables: employed or unemployed; hired or fired; funded or unfunded; convinced or sceptical. The audio-visual projection of concepts, ideas, and proposals is a boardroom staple and hell for an introvert.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways a presentation can be approached. Whether you’re presenting to two or to two hundred, it’s about being competent, rather than just confident. Anxiety can only be tackled through preparation and self-belief, so here’s a collection of tools to help sharpen your technique:
- Don’t over-plan.
Whilst this may seem to be something of a contradiction, one of the worst things a presenter can do is prepare to the level of becoming robotic. Flow should come naturally – with preparation, confidence should be naturally exuded. Communicating preparedness without appearing over-learned is the key to persuasion. Finding that balance between preparation and natural flow, whilst difficult, is essential.
- Breathe in, not out.
Resisting the urge to ‘um’ and ‘ah’ through awkward pauses in a presentation is incredibly tough. For whatever reason, these unintelligible antiquities of diction always manage to find their way into the speeches of nervous presenters. Controlling them can mean the difference between an attentive audience and lost attention.
Instead, when you feel a pause for thought coming on, take a short breath in. While the pause will still be noticeable to your audience, it’ll seem more controlled, and genuinely thoughtful, as opposed to bungling.
Guy Kawasaki proposed this method, that he believes is key to every strong presentation.
No more than ten slides. Ten, Kawasaki claims, is the optimum number because more than ten concepts in one meeting may be too much to comprehend.
No more than twenty minutes. That’s two minutes per slide. If a meeting is booked for an hour, the ideal outcome would be 20 minutes of presentation time, with 40 open for discussion
No font small than thirty points. This prevents the time-honoured instant audience switch-off that is reading from the slides. It demands you make the most salient points, and trim down the fat.
The simple regurgitation of facts is never the way to present – you need to captivate your audience. Of course, the statistics and information form the core of the presentation, but it’s how it’s conveyed that will ensure it’s memorable.
Illustrate points with real-life experiences the audience can relate to, and you’ll soon have them on your side.
- The delayed drop.
Timing is key when delivering key information. We find the best way to hammer a truth home is to coax the audience into laughter, before delivering a weighty point. When the listener has an open mind, they’ll be more likely to accept new information.
The amount of technology available to assist with the presentation process can be overwhelming. Traditional PowerPoint are still king (resist that urge for ‘fun’ slide transitions!), but you can add real flare with tools like Prezi, which really brings slideshows to life. Ensuring slide compatibility is a winning move, as you can never be sure the format you’ve saved it in will be uniform.
Post-presentation, it’s a good idea to host your presentation on SlideShare and share the link across your social media channels. This will give the audience something to refer back to, and can be useful to those who couldn’t make it to the demonstration.
- Accept challenges.
Making sure you remain attentive and, most importantly, open to criticism throughout is crucial. Your audience may be less receptive to certain points, and may require deeper explanation. Don’t turn a blind eye and assume a position of absolute ignorant expertise – chances are you’ll switch more minds on with a little back-and-forth.
Apologise if you’re wrong – don’t fear being proved wrong. Your willingness to adapt and collaborate will show a greater confidence than flat-out defiance.
- Enjoy yourself!
This may sound impossible, but enthusiasm is contagious. Think about what you really want to get out of the presentation, and run with it.
Edited and produced by Stephen Moore – Marketing Director
Stephen Moore is the Global Marketing Director for Search office Space Group which meetingrooms.com is the newest addition. An active blogger and article writer, Steve has also appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 2 Drivetime, Sky News and France 24 amongst others, talking about business, commercial property and marketing.
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