This is the sequel to “7 Points of Effective Presentation: Killer Powerpoint Slides.”
Last week, we started work on a presentation with a client. We identified 7 important areas for improvement, and the client created a very effective slide stack as a result of our effort.
However, the delivery of the material is equally important. When we started working on it, we realized that it required even more effort than the “hard” part, i.e. the slides.
That’s how we ended up with 17 points that needed the client’s attention in order to make the presentation really great.
Significant part of the preparation effort is to become aware of your body language – something that your audience will be aware of at a subconscious level. If your slides are great but the message is poorly presented in terms of your body language, your presentation will be an epic fail: the audience may not understand you, will find you unconvincing, and will get distracted easily.
Before we look together at the 17 points, it is important to remind yourself: What is the goal of the presentation?
Assuming that we are still on the same page, our goal is:
To deliver the presentation in the most convincing and memorable way.
Here are the 17 key points that will help you achieve the goal:
- Know the narrative well, that’s a No.1 indeed. Reading your presentation will lower your chances to be convincing – or to be noticed altogether. Practice the presentation until you don’t need a script, rather: rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse.
If you think you already know your script, switch on the TV and try again. If you can do it with the TV on, then you are good: you will be able to improvise. You will then sound conversational, not tape-recorded, and that is already a rare and memorable thing for a business presentation, isn’t it?
- Eliminate the so-called filled pauses and discourse markers. Ask a colleague to register how many times per minute you say “uh”, “um”, “eh”, “like”, “you know”, “I mean”, etc. Use the measurement as your KPI. Of course, your target KPI is 0.
- Arrive early to check the location. That will guarantee 100% that you are not late. Plus, this will make sure you deliver your best: check if there will be a mike or not, lights, projector, white board, podium, stage, etc.
- Dress appropriately. Always dress up one notch – just one – above your audience. This will demonstrate your respect but not superiority. Do not refer to the famous “plain black turtleneck.” You are not Steve Jobs yet, and the Issey Miyake turtleneck was not that plain…
- Connect with the audience – demonstrate that you care. Make sure that they understand what you are going to tell them and that it will be beneficial to them. Be ready to summarize your idea in 10-15 words. If you cannot do that, then you may need to revisit either the presentation or the whole idea.
- The audience has to see that you know your subject. Cite references they recognize and respect – but not your credentials. If nobody in the audience knows you, make sure that the owner of the meeting has introduced and endorsed you appropriately.
- Make sure the phones are switched off, and the laptops are closed. No reason to be shy about it. You may turn this into an ice-breaker, saying something like “I will not ask you to switch your phones to silent mode, because you have probably done that already, so that not to be embarrassed during the presentation.”
- Maintain eye contact with the audience. Look in their eyes, not over the heads. At best, a lack of eye contact makes you appear distant from and uninterested in the audience. At worst, you appear untrustworthy or unsure in what you are saying. The audience, in turn, will switch off and lose interest in you.
- Show your humanity. That’s a killer point. Add a “by-play” personal detail to demonstrate your vulnerability and shared common values. That will make you trustworthy and likable.
- Be entertaining and informative. Include – or start with – a powerful story or a great example of your team’s success. To get the audience excited about your message you have to show them your own excitement about it. Otherwise, they will return to their gadgets and pay no attention to you at all.
- Preferably, be upstanding throughout your delivery, even if other presenters prefer to address the audience from their seats. This gives you a more powerful image right away. Support your points with appropriate movements and gestures and by changing facial impression. All that may be unusual for some cultures, but even in those cultures being more articulate and animate helps a lot to deliver a memorable message.
- Although nonverbal cues are important, do not plan your gestures though. Unless you are Meg Ryan, it is next to impossible to rehearse nonverbal cues: they will look false, and that kills credibility.
- Slow down if you get nervous. Allow yourself to pause, especially when you want to make an emphasis. You must come across as confident and relaxed.Talking fast, you become less comprehensible, less authoritative – and lose the trust. Smile and do not be afraid to make them laugh. Keep reading their reaction and adjust your presentation
- Prepare your own questions for Q&A. This will ease the awkward moment if nobody has any question to ask. Also, it will help you to get going and maintain the dialog with your audience.
- Do apologize if you make a mistake or if you are wrong altogether on some point. That will make you more confident than if you try to avoid facing the reality.
- BUT: never apologize before the presentation, making your apology the opening line, like “I am an engineer and I am not a professional presenter” or “I am really tired after the red-eye flight” – even you do have some real excuses. Do not sound like a loser.
- Enjoy the process and make sure that it is enjoyable for your audience.
Bonus item: sleep well before the event.
The presentation was a success!
My client confessed that he finished rehearsing his spiel around 2.00 am. That’s why we have added the bonus point. However, he went to sleep prepared and confident – and slept well.
In the morning, he delivered a killer presentation at his project kick-off meeting, having thus assured the necessary support from his Sponsor and key stakeholders who are now confident in the success of the project. What better recognition his coach could ask for?
Follow the 7 Powerpoint and the 17 Delivery points of effective presentation, and success will follow you.
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