5 Tips to Help You Become a Great Presenter
At Advantage, we are in the business of providing ideas and solutions to marketing challenges. And we are constantly presenting those ideas to clients and prospective clients. But even good ideas can fall “flat” if not presented clearly. Hence, giving good presentations is a valuable skill in our industry. Jon Fein, Senior Account Executive here at Advantage, provides 5 tips to help you become a great presenter.
Tip #1: Tell a Story
In my opinion, the most important tip is to turn the presentation into a story. Whether it’s pitching a new idea or responding to an RFP, don’t just rely on presenting the information. No matter how inherently interesting or compelling the information is, it won’t be enough to fully win over your audience. And for many presentations, the information is not that interesting or compelling. The presenter needs to become a storyteller and involve the audience in his or her story. It’s about the information but not just about the information. The presenter needs to incorporate his or her journey of how they achieved this knowledge or came to this understanding. Of course, it’s possible to go overboard with this storytelling approach and lose sense of the message being conveyed. As a result of this, a happy balance is essential. And in the storytelling aspect of presenting, put some (not too much, but some) emotion into it. This approach will animate the presentation, which will make the information you’re trying to convey become more alive and make it seem more important to the audience.
Tip #2: Assume You Don’t Have Your Audience’s Attention
You should assume your audience isn’t going to listen to you. It’s become commonplace to be on your phone or laptop during meetings. Embrace the challenge of fighting through these distractions. Always go into a presentation with a plan to make your audience interested in what you have to say. Some ways to accomplish this are:
Establish connections between your presentation and what you know your audience is already interested or invested in
Find ways to reference individuals in your audience during your presentation
Preview the take home message early on. Let the audience know in broad terms what the one, two or three key things you’re going to tell them are. Leave out the detail at this point. It’s a teaser to orient them as to what to expect and get them interested
Tip #3: Practice
We all want to be good at public speaking. Some of us might be born with qualities like composure and charisma which make public speaking easier, but most of us will probably have to learn this skill set. That being said, I would like to make one thing clear, you can’t just rely on composure and charisma. Those qualities won’t save a bad presentation if the quality of your message is lacking. It won’t make a bad presentation good, but it can make a good presentation great. So follow that old cliché, “practice makes perfect.” Practice in front of your co-workers or even by yourself in front of a mirror. I can’t tell you how many presentations my wife, 11-month old daughter and 2 dogs have heard and it may sound crazy, but they’ve been very helpful to me in preparing for my meetings. Make sure you are comfortable with the story you are trying to tell. However, be careful not to over practice as your presentation should not sound scripted or robotic.
Tip #4: Don’t Read Your Slides to Your Audience
As I’ve already mentioned, assume your audience has a short attention span. If your slides are busy and filled to the brim with content, graphs or data, you are giving your audience an opportunity to mentally check out. Don’t give them that opportunity! Everything in your PowerPoint deck should serve a purpose during your presentation. If you feel it’s imperative to include information that you don’t plan to reference, include it in the appendix and notify your audience that supporting documents are there to review at their leisure.
Tip #5: Solve a Problem for Your Audience
This may sound obvious, but ask yourself “Is this presentation worthwhile?” There should be no doubt in your mind that your presentation can and will benefit your audience, make their lives easier and solve a problem they have. Your audience’s time is very valuable and they most likely have other meetings to go to and tasks to complete. For you “Office” (TV show) fans, I would kill to be part of some of Michael Scott’s presentations, but purely for the entertainment value. Seeing Michael throw candy bars at Ryan’s business school class would be awesome, but will that presentation increase my business knowledge? Sadly, no. So, don’t be Michael Scott. Ensure your audience is getting something worthwhile from your presentation.