As always, preparation is key. Here are six simple business presentation skills to maximise the effectiveness of your presentations.
1. Remember that great presentations are no accident
The level of success will be dependant upon your knowledge of your audience when you speak. Find out who will be present, what existing knowledge they have of your topic or your product and their genuine interest. Find out their expectation of you and what they want from your presentation. If you are committed to hypnotizing your audience by using Powerpoint, or paralysis by projector ensure that your visual aids are just an aid and don’t do the presentation for you. Less is more so only use minimal aids to consolidate main points.
2. Be aware of how much time you have to stand and deliver
Be clear in what you must say, what you should say, and what you could say if you have time. Stick to your plan, topic and time. Speakers who get distracted and run short of time leave the audience feeling frustrated and often with a confused message. Practice the presentation and leave time at the end for questions, discussion and plan of action.
3. If you’re supplying handouts…
…tell the audience they will be receiving them at the end, or will be emailed or sent out, otherwise some will focus on the paper and not you.
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4. Try Snow White’s honest approach to feedback
Ask “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – who is the most boring of them all?” And if the answer is “You”, remember that 55% of your presentation is conveyed through body language, 38% through tonality and only 7% is attributed to content. A common problem is having too much information. If you over prepare you will overwhelm your audience with statistics and facts they are unlikely to remember. The average person concentrates for up to eight minutes, so it makes sense to present with enthusiasm. Project your voice that with variety in tones if you want your audience to retain facts and figures.
5. Deliver information by using props as aids
This is not a gimmick but a proven tool for maximizing recall. Limit Powerpoint and go back to entertaining and educating people in a way that is memorable and relevant to their experiences. Find metaphors to illustrate concepts. Items such as models, toys, bow and arrow (goal setting) hats (diversity) magnifying glass (perception) are ideal, for they are creative fire to our imagination which is greater than knowledge.
6. Listen to and learn from other speakers
Work out what you like, what you don’t and be prepared to adapt your style to the different audiences or groups you speak to. If the communication response was not the one you wanted – don’t simply say the audience was dull.
One final point to remember: people buy benefits and outcomes, not promises and generalities that bear no relevance to their lives. So begin with the end in mind and ensure you tailor your presentations to the needs of the audience you are speaking to.
Click here for my earlier article on Five strategies for delivering effective presentations.