Yesterday, I clued you in on the 6 secrets to running a high performance meeting. But a lot of the time, these meetings may consist of a presentation or two.
I know what you're thinking: The dreaded Powerpoint slide. The wicked pointing stick. The feeling of complete boredom.
It's time to rethink the meaning of "business presentation."
Seems like a no-brainer, right? But you’d be surprised to learn just how many presenters do not plan for important business meetings and presentations. For some, planning may mean developing important content and creating a Powerpoint, but there is much more to the planning process than just that.
· Define your audience: You cannot engage your audience unless you know exactly who they are beforehand. The way you present something to a client will be much different that how you will pitch to a potential investor. Research your audience’s culture, politics, education, interests, etc.
· Define why you’re presenting: An entrepreneur’s presentation will fail if they do not know the reason why they are presenting in the first place. While planning a presentation, be sure to define its overall goals; is it to inform the audience? Solve a problem? Get hired? Bear in mind the important concept of WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). That’s exactly what your audience will be thinking, so be sure to answer this question.
· Prepare for questions: Your audience will ask questions. And you will not freak out because you will be prepared for each and every one of them. Come up with ten questions that your audience may have, and ask some colleagues to come up with some as well. This will prepare you to answer those questions smoothly, on the spot, sans the panic attack.Develop Carefully. Very Carefully.
Developing a presentation doesn’t seem that hard, does it? You jot down some points on a few note cards, you create a quick Powerpoint, and you warm up your voice beforehand, right? Wrong. Developing a kick-butt presentation takes time. Don’t rush when developing the content for your presentation.
- KISS: Ever heard the phrase “keep it simple, stupid”? That’s one of the most important things that you can do when developing your business presentation. Keep it simple, less is better, don’t go overboard. The best presentations usually have three topics with a few bullet points under each one.
- Powerpoints: Powerpoints are a great tool to use when presenting, but they can also cause you to crash and burn. During the development of a Powerpoint, remember to answer the audience’s question: what’s in it for me? Use pictures, graphics, maps, charts, and visuals whenever possible. Get creative, or your audience will fall asleep. Additionally, make sure that your technology works! There is nothing worse than sitting through a presentation with a broken projector, a popping microphone, or flickering lights
- Don’t memorize: Do not try to memorize what you want to say when you develop your content. Memorization will make you sound like a robot. What’s worse; if you lose track of where you are during the presentation, you will focus more on the words rather than the message.
When the delivery stage comes, breathe. Presentations should not be a scary thing. As long as you remain relaxed during a presentation, your audience will feel at ease with you, and therefore, will be more engaged in what you are saying.
· Eye contact: This will help your audience feel more comfortable with you. It also will allow them to see that you are doing this for them. Try to make eye contact with almost everyone in the room at least once (depending on how long your presentation is). Everyone needs to feel included if you want them to keep listening.
· Clear voice: Keep your voice clear, but enthusiastic, at a medium tone. No need to shout at the audience, but also make sure that the people in the back can adequately hear you.
· Pace: Don’t talk too fast. One of the ways that people can tell you’re nervous is a quick-paced speech. Relax and keep the pace at 120-150 words per minute (you may want to practice this).
· Body language: Don’t force hand gestures or pacing—just let it happen. The more natural you look up there, the more people will be receptive to you and your ideas.
So the next time you start developing a lackluster, snore-inducing presentation, keep these tips in mind. It’s not that difficult to turn your boring business presentation into an ultra-stimulating, audience-engaging, kick-butt experience!
Written by Allison Way. Allison is a writer and videographer for Think Big Partners, Kansas City's mentorship-based business incubator and startup accelerator. To read more of Allison's work, check out the Kansas City Entrepreneurship Examiner as well as her articles on Helium, Newvine, eZine and BrooWaha.