By Robin Lines
Delivering a presentation can be an unnerving experience. A good pitch depends not only on the quality of the idea, but also in how it’s communicated. Presentation is a crucial skill in many fields, but even if you do not have to give presentations regularly, you may well find that the elements of effective presentations can help you in other areas of your professional and personal life.
If you watch Dragon’s Den, you will have likely noticed that the Dragons regularly ask the same questions of entrepreneurs. They do this because they need to know whether the person giving the pitch has done their research. You can never be too prepared. When you are asking for people’s attention, you owe it to them not to waste their time with half-formed ideas, or poorly researched information.
Before any presentation, make sure you have equipped yourself with the essential knowledge to communicate your thoughts. Rehearse what you are going to say out loud several times. You may find it useful to write and memorise a script. You want to be able to reach the point where you can say your piece without umming or erring, as well as being able to answer any questions that may be asked in a confident, efficient manner.
Some people tend to go off on tangents during presentations – DON’T. Every second you spend talking about something not relevant to your presentation is time you will never get back. At worst, you may start rambling and give the impression that you’re trying to ‘wing-it’. Rambling speakers look disorganised and appear not to care about the time of the people they are speaking with.
When writing your script, or rehearsing your presentation, be prepared to take a butcher’s knife to any sentences or phrases that are not on-message. You need to think like an author and be prepared to ‘murder your darlings’ when you stray from the focus. Ask yourself, what is the most concise way I can communicate what I need to say?
Don’t Overuse PowerPoint
PowerPoint should be an aid to your presentation. It should not BE your presentation. Too many people have sat through too many presentations where a speaker clicks through a PowerPoint deck only to repeat what is on screen. Visual aids are not there to do the work for you. They are meant to highlight key points, and to link an image or phrase to a point you are making.
You are the one giving the presentation and you need to be the one to communicate the information. If you overuse PowerPoint, you create a situation where the audience must split their attention between you and the screen. In most cases, whatever point you’re making is lost.
Be Relaxed to Appear Confident
A tense, stilted speaker looks nervous. People rarely buy what a nervous seller has to offer. Instead, they buy from those confident in what they’re selling. Even if you are not trying to sell a product or service, you are still selling yourself. You want people to leave the presentation assured that the information they have just received is valid and relevant. In order to do this, you need to look and act confident.
You can appear more confident by making sure you are calm and relaxed before giving your presentation. Take a few moments to centre yourself with breathing exercises or try some Peak Performance Visualisation techniques. As you speak, don’t stand statuesque, but move around and try and use your arms to communicate.
Want to Develop Your Presentation Skills?
Robin Lines Associates offers fully bespoke and comprehensive Presentation Skills programmes. Whether you are a novice who needs to grow their skillset from scratch, or an experienced public speaker looking to develop advanced skills, we can offer you a solution that works for you. We have delivered Presentation Skills programmes to a number of organisations, and have experience with public speaking, pitching to investors, pitching to customers, and delivering seminars to large audiences.
Professional Services Consultant
I'm a highly experienced, versatile and dynamic training facilitator and business coach, dedicated to assisting leaders in helping their people achieve their potential and realise goals. I also deliver a range of Consultative Selling and Key Account Management programmes, equipping salespeople with the skills, tools and methodologies to help them win and outsell their competition.