You may be lucky. You may be very lucky. You have never been asked to make a presentation, nor will you have to make one in the future. If you are one of the unlucky ones, even thinking about your next presentation may fill you with dread, and have your stomach churning just at the thought of it. Well, all is not lost because there are a number of things you can do in preparing the perfect presentation.
Over the last 35 years, I have made thousands of presentations and I would consider myself an excellent presenter. However, when I first started to make corporate presentations I was advised to have a glass water at hand in case of a dry throat. This did not help as my hand was shaking so much I couldn’t pick up the glass. I actually thought the audience were able to hear my beating heart from the back of the room.
This article is written for all of those who suffer the stress, anxiety and terror of making presentations. We will outline five classic tips for you to follow in preparing and delivering the perfect hesitation.
Remember, skillful presenting is a balancing act – balancing the information you are presenting and the way you relate to your audience. There are some basic factors that all presenters must take into account when preparing presentations.
1. People are overwhelmed with information. When we present we must ensure that the information we deliver is understood and can be acted on. Too much and we run the risk of diluting the points we wish to convey.
Action point. Have no more than 7 bullet points on any slide. The more information you have on a PowerPoint slide, the greater the risk that your audience will be reading ahead of the point that you wish to talk about therefore losing their retention.
2. People have short attention and retention spans. Research from Arizona University has found that, in a presentation, we are likely to lose concentration every 8-10 minutes (Arizona State University, Staley J Myer/S Wyckoff, 1997).
Action point. One of the best ways of keeping audience attention is to make your presentation relevant at all times to current needs of the audience. No presentation is ever boring that addresses the needs of it’s audience.
3. Skillful presenting is all about presenting information there is valuable to your audience.
Action point. Remember that the most important people in the room are your audience so it’s important to ensure your presentation relates to their needs and requirements; it must be valuable to them. Think about your next presentation – can you articulate its VALUE to the audience.
4. The purpose of every presentation is to inform, influence and persuade. Most presentations involve some elements of sales or selling your point of view to the audience.
Action point. Always remember that the success of your presentation is not purely about what happened on the day, but What the audience do with your information after you have stopped speaking. Therefore, always ensure now a strong summary and action points to finish.
5. Finally, if you follow points from this article you cannot fail to deliver what we would call the perfect presentation. Therefore, every presentation you make in the future must satisfy these four criteria:
1. Attention getting – grab it and keep it
2. Meaningful – relevant and impactful
3. Memorable – strong messages are remembered
4. Action orientated – points the way forward
Action point. Analyse your next presentation to ensure it is the best one you’ll ever delivered.