Presenting is commonplace for most of us, and a pretty common thing that many dislike having to do as well…but some straightforward techniques can take your presentations from the mundane to the magnificent!
Easier said than done? Just consider the amount of presentations we are subjected to, where the ‘presenter’ hasn’t done their groundwork, is still getting themselves ready once the clock has started ticking or we spend all our time wondering what they are saying and leave with no idea what the point was. Fear not! By following some simple steps, it really is easy to WOW with your presentations and make them stand out from the crowd.
1.Failing to prepare = preparing to fail.
Very few of us can stand up there and knock it out of the park without putting the effort in up front. How long you need to prepare depends on a number of factors, such as:
- How well you know the subject
- How much content/material already exists
- How skilled you are as a presenter
Factor in as much time as possible, scheduling the time out in your diary if necessary – do this sooner rather than later. It can take anywhere from 10 hours to 30 hours+ to prepare your content and delivery, including time to rehearse. Don’t forget, preparation should also cover getting set-up on time and having a Plan B just in case things don’t go to plan (technical problems, anyone?).
2.Tell a story.
During your preparation time, start off by thinking of how you will structure the presentation. What’s the Twitter-style 140 character intro that will grab people’s attention, hook them and make them interested in why they need to listen? A great story connects with us on an emotional level and has a captivating introduction, killer content and a powerful ending.
3.Keep it real.
Realness is about bringing an idea to life and not relying solely on words, taken from ‘Sticky Wisdom‘ by What If: The Innovation Company. There are 3 elements to how we create realness in our presentations:
- Engage with the ‘theatre of the mind’ – we all see and feel things differently so do your best to tune into your audience.
- Avoid ‘insider speak’ – go easy on the jargon, acronyms and corporate language (good advice to live by really!)…this alienates your audience and adds confusion.
- Remember ‘brain styles’ – put something in your presentation that appeals to all styles. Confucius said “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”, so make it come alive.
4.Create an experience.
During the main part of your presentation, you should now have the interest of the audience; now you need to give them the substance and create an experience. There are a number of ways to do this:
- Introduce the antagonist or counterargument (i.e. what’s the problem to solve or what is the benefit of your recommendations?).
- Explain what you think needs to be done.
- Use anecdotes, examples, testimonials, stories and relevant statistics to prove the effectiveness of your solution.
- Pre-empt any potential arguments which you might be challenged with.
- Give the audience a vision – something they can see, hear, taste or touch.
- Get the audience involved to keep them engaged.
5.Brush up on your delivery technique.
Something that’s often left until the last minute, if considered at all…PRACTICE! Let us repeat…PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!! To yourself, in the mirror, in front of the cat / dog at home but ideally in front of real-live human beings who can give you helpful feedback, we can’t stress this enough. Here are a few other pointers to help with your delivery style:
- Use the space around you in the room, avoid being rooted to the spot by moving slowly and fully around your space.
- Watch out for tells that could show your anxiety, such as clicking pens or rocking on the spot where you stand.
- Brush up on your questioning and listening skills.
- Observe your audience – watch out for signs of restlessness or boredom.
- Use silence to your advantage rather than filling them with noise.
- Give your audience time to think and reflect on what you are telling them.
Of course, we would argue that you can learn to love presenting, but even if not love, by trying out these tips you’ll certainly love being better at delivering presentations in a way that helps you to feel 100% more confident!
We hope these ideas help to refresh your presentations, but of course it really just scratches the surface. At Right Trax Training, we can help you to deliver truly powerful presentations. Find out more about our interpersonal skills workshops and get in touch to find out how we can help you.