There’s another way. Presentations don’t have to consist of six bullet points to a slide for thirty slides. Just because everybody else reads from their slides, it doesn’t mean that you have to. Delivering a presentation can be fun for the audience, and the presenter.
Be proactive about becoming a better presenter. Presentation skills are essential in today’s business world. Set out to become a better presenter by reading about effective presentations, watching and copying interesting presenters, and identifying and replacing bad habits. It will help your career, and it will help those who have to watch you present.
Begin with Objectives in Mind
Highly effective presentations are those that have a clear message. Why are you delivering a presentation? If you are only presenting because it’s what usually happens, or if you could just as well send a Word document, then save everybody’s time and don’t present.
Start developing each presentation by setting clear objectives: What do you want your audience to do as a result of your presentation, and when by? What do you want your audience to think following your presentation? How will you measure whether your presentation has achieved its objectives?
Effective presentations are those that help the presenter achieve their objectives. Without objectives, what is a presentation for?
Put Essential Things First
In a highly effective presentation, the audience will quickly understand what the point of the presentation is, what any jargon means, and why the presenter is worth listening to.
If the audience aren’t sure why they should bother listening, or can’t follow what is being said, they will disengage. Instead, set out your credibility early, ensure you define your terms, and state benefits up-front.
In practical terms, this can mean delivering a presentation that seems somewhat back-to-front. Establish credibility, and then state your conclusions, before spending the rest of the presentation justifying your conclusions. For the audience this structure is far easier to follow.
Think “What’s in it for Them?”
Most presenters talk about themselves, the features of their products, and give details that few other people would care for.
Why should your audience listen? What will they learn? How might they benefit? An effective presentation is written for the audience, not the presenter. Effective presenters talk about their audience, the benefits their audience will receive, and edit ruthlessly to ensure detail that will be considered boring is excluded.
Seek First to Understand, then to Present
Don’t “show up and throw up” when delivering a sales presentation or seeking investment. Sure, if you are launching a product or delivering a conference keynote presentation you might want to launch straight into your presentation, but even then, find out as much as you can about your audience in advance.
If you manage to get a meeting with a potential client or investor, do your homework. Utilise contacts, social media, and company websites to identify interests and “hot buttons”. Tailor your presentation to take advantage of your research.
Presentations should be part of a two-way dialogue. The best presenters are always looking to see how their audience responds, in order to identify objections, shape needs, and advance discussion.
Interactive presentations are often more effective. Why? Because the audience is engaged, because the audience’s interests can be more directly addressed, and – quite frankly – because they stand out as a bit different. Interactive presentations involve the audience by:
Setting puzzles to get the audience thinking
Allowing the audience to set the agenda
Listening to what the audience has to say
Effective presentations often include elements of interactivity to benefit from the synergy produced by involving the audience.
Sharpen Presentation Skills
Highly effective presentations take hours to prepare. But presentations can’t deliver themselves. Effective presenters spend days practising. Become a great presenter doesn’t happen overnight. So, go on a presentation skills training course. Video yourself presenting. Ask for feedback. Organise coaching. But most important of all, keep trying to become a more effective presenter.