Corporate presentations can be so dull that the term “death by PowerPoint” will easily be understood by anyone who has ever had to endure the worst of them.
On the other hand, a well-presented session can be effective, no matter what tools are used. If a presenter finds the right way to capture an audience’s attention and deliver a message appropriately, everyone leaves the room feeling that time was well spent.
With forethought and planning, a presentation on proposed redundancies certainly won’t need funny video clips to liven it up, but even a difficult message like this can be delivered empathetically and informatively.
I’m no expert presenter but with a lot of practice over the years, I’ve learnt some tricks I’d like to share with you.
Perfect Pitch: For many people, the thought of presenting in front of an audience is nerve-wracking to say the least. If you’re making a sales pitch or something similarly important, you won’t want to mess it up; you may never have a second chance to impress. If presenting is a routine requirement of your job or you just fancy a laugh, watch the “Worst Presentation Ever” at www.tinyurl.com/wpever2013. This brief video demonstrates perfectly the classic presentation mistakes happening in a meeting room near you, and the audience’s reactions.
I’d wager there aren’t many presenters who haven’t committed at least a few of these slide-show sins. It’s a funny video, but also a useful check on your own presentation methods: are you overloading slides with too much text or dazzling dazed audiences with an array of animations?
Are your PowerPoint presentations packed with clip art or dull, obscure quotes? Do you read your slides to an audience that has just read them? I’ve done all this and worse. Being aware of these pitfalls helps you avoid them.
Message: Getting a presentation right begins with your message. If you start with a blank PowerPoint slide without first defining what you want to say, you could end up wasting time finding that perfect bullet point colour, or making the floating pie chart fade away just as the backing soundtrack changes to Bryan Adams… It’s a bit like writing a film script, and obsessing about the credits before the movie’s made.
Start with pen and paper or a tape recorder, and just write, draw or say exactly what you need to. I use Notepad, Word, my smartphone or whatever I have to hand to jot down my thoughts and plans as they come.
Just as I will rework and refine each paragraph of this column several times before I submit it, so I find the clarity and intent of my presentation improves if I chop and change my message.
These initial notes form the basis of what I’m trying to say, so they often take up most of the preparation time.
Some of them can be copied and pasted directly on to slides; others remind me of important points to emphasise as I present.
Some of the best presentations I’ve ever done haven’t needed a slide at all. Sometimes, all that matters is that I know my product and I’m prepared to have a discussion that answers a potential customer’s questions.
Nobody goes to a presentation hoping to see some slides; what we really want is answers, examples, commitments – information with integrity.
Share: What can you share about presentations you’ve attended or given?
* Do you have a sure-fire way to combat stage fright and deliver a compelling message? Please let me know by e-mail to email@example.com .
Next week, I’ll continue with my tips, and hopefully include some of yours.
Then I’ll introduce some innovative tools available to give your presentations flair which will complement, not contradict, your all-important message. - The Mercury