So you’ve got an important board meeting to attend in two days’ time. The nerve-racking part isn’t that it will be your first board meeting – but the fact that your boss expects you to deliver a presentation so amazing it’ll put the late Steve Jobs to shame. How are you going to clinch that deal and sweep those investors off their feet? How will you ever come up with a presentation so good, your promotion is guaranteed?
Whether it be a presentation for a large board meeting, a sales pitch, an idea presentation, or just one to convince the office that every Wednesday be ‘in-office-movie-night’ day; chill and keep calm…we have just the tips for you to avoid Death by Powerpoint.
1. Frame Your Focus
No one is ever impressed by a presentation that goes on and on with no beginning and no end. A presentation that looks like a disarrayed, jumbled mess of pointers that do not lead to each other is a pain to follow; and even more of a pain to deliver as a presenter.
Frame your topic well by getting your points organized. If you’re worried the crowd isn’t getting the gist behind a really important point, highlight it by itself to give it the emphasis it needs, and then highlight it again in a summary no longer than one sentence. Be careful to not over-do it though, you wouldn’t want to bore the heck out of your crowd by repeating the entire point for 10 minutes… would you?
2. Dazzling That Delivery
Hey, they say practice makes perfect. That’s true because you would want to look confident and knowledgeable. At the same time, it doesn’t mean reading off your slides like a bullet train or boring your crowd with a Powerpoint just full of text! You are the stage, so you’ve got to give an amazing performance! No dull monotones – instead, engage your audience; sell your story with the use metaphors or ways to elaborate your points like personal stories or something that you know the audience can relate to.
And oh please do make eye contact. You are not talking to a wall, you are talking to people – and eye contact is the best way to show that you mean what you say in the most humanly manner possible. Now is also the best time to show off that passion and humour in you!
3. Time That Time!
Nobody wants to sit through 20 minutes on a single slide! Break down your sentence into a few slides to lead people through what you are saying. This helps deliver your message and break the monotony of staring at the same thing as you blab on your point. Work on your timing not just for your slides or points, but for the entire presentation. If you’re given an hour, everyone will appreciate if you stick to it.
Questions are also best left when you have finished the presentation. Nothing kills a presentation faster than interruptions. Questions from the floor have a tendency to deviate you, break your momentum, and drag the time even longer than what it should be. So with that, do mention that you are allocating time for a Q&A at the end of your session.
4. Vocalizing Your Visuals
Short cartoon strips, photos, or even the totally overused ‘big-text-over-nice-looking-background’ will help capture the audience’s attention, further illustrate and give life to your presentation. Some presentations just can’t be done without the help of visuals like graphs and charts, but there are many ways to make the typical graph or chart more visually-appealing. Go search on Google – “Powerpoint chart and graph templates”. There are many, many examples of Powerpoint slides that you could use for yourself.
Obviously, they are not going to explain themselves (duh). If you have a visual in your presentation, make sure they have a purpose for being there! Beware though! Too many visuals can also be confusing and distracting if they do not lead to each other. Plan them out properly and ensure that they have the all-important ‘flow’. As a general guide, If you have more than one visual for every 30 seconds – 1 minute of you talking, that’s definitely one too many.
Is this visual slide really necessary? Always think before you include them in your presentation
5. Smoothing Out That Speech
Planning your gestures might be a sound thing to do but DON’T. You don’t want to look like a robot or awkward. You want to look natural and… correctly poised. As you talk, your body will automatically follow suit especially when you start to get a little excited over your presentation. Avoid holding your hands together at the fingertips while swaying left to right – that’s what a newbie looks like.
Ummm-ing, uhh-ing or ahh-ing is not advised to be uttered when organising your sentences in your head! It can’t be totally eliminated but do keep them real short and unnoticeable if possible. This goes the same for your responses during the Q&A sessions. Instead of the ummms and uhhhs, say “that’s a good question” or “thank you for your question” to smooth out your speech. If you’re asked a super hard question which puts you in a hard place? Breathe IN, but don’t sigh it out.
Above all, have fun when you deliever your presentation. Enthusiasm can help make your speech appear livelier and is definitely contagious! You audience will feel it for sure!
Feeling more confident already? If not, um… there’s still some saving grace. Do check out these videos on how to better make that killer presentation:
and also this:
(FYI, delivering an awesome presentation is definitely easier than gaining the Iron Throne.)