We are a now a TV/Computer screen society and people today expect you to make presentations that are engaging, informative and polished. Professional presenters do not leave success up to chance. They plan for it by crafting a program that is customized for the audience with the outcome in mind.
You can present, using the ‘same old same old’ that you feel comfortable with, adding the tired PowerPoint that holds no excitement for anyone (including you) and make an adequate presentation. OR – you can present to others in a way that shows your ability to address their informational needs with a powerful and creative style.
- Ask – Start with asking the right questions: Who is the audience? What do they want to know? What do you want them to do as a result of your presentation? What do they need to know in order to do that?
- Strong Opening – Grab their attention from the very start. Tell a story, use a surprising statistic, ask a question, share an example of the consequence of inaction, show a picture or video, or talk about the benefit or the happy ending if your ideas or suggestions are adopted.
- Hello – First impressions matter so make it the right one with professional attire, eye contact and a confident smile (whether you feel it or not). If it’s a little more formal, provide a well crafted introduction of who you are and why you are the person to make this presentation.
- Logical Progression – Create a logical sequence for your talk. It can develop like building blocks, have a beginning, middle, and end, or start simply and grow to become complicated. Start where your audience needs to begin and design a map to get them where you want to end up.
- Customize – Create a presentation where the focus is one the audience’s need. If they are beginners, start them out with basics. If they have a good grasp of the basics, focus on application. If you have a mix of knowledge levels, make sure to offer additional resources, websites, articles, and books on your subject.
- Stop Talking – Allow for questions, discussion, comments or reflection. Not only will you engage your audience, you can determine if they are moving in the direction you had hoped.
- Multiple Paths – Use a variety of approaches. Use stories, facts, statistics, pictures, models, terms (and their definitions), examples, handouts, or quotes (but not too many!).
- Plan for Questions – Anticipate questions and prepare answers. Have examples ready to demonstrate your points.
- Strong Close – Just like your opening, your closing should be strong with a call to action. As a result of your presentation, what are you asking for? Do you want them to know something new, learn about themselves, believe, get motivated, act, buy, or communicate to others?
- 2P – Preparation and Practice draws the line between savvy and stupid! Rehearsing reduces nervousness by up to 75% and decreases the chance of errors by even more!
Match the needs of your presentation to your audience and your invitations to speak and to be seen as a valuable resource will increase. Communicating effectively is one of the most needed and valued professional skills. THe more senior your position, the more it’s expected.