Small Business Advice | Presenting Perfection

We’ve all been there. Standing in front of our colleagues, customers or businesses associates expected to deliver an informative and engaging presentation about a topic, that we’re presumably an expert in. For some it’s no matter at all. For others though, it can be a source of much anxiety.  The nerves might kick in when speaking, or perhaps it’s a case of not knowing where to start when pulling your presentation together in the first place!  As with most things, however, there are steps you can take to try and make sure that, whether you’re presenting a business plan to the bank, a presentation to colleagues via teleconferencing or speaking to a room full of customers, you present to perfection.

Here’s a few pointers that I use when preparing for a presentation. Start with a plan and you won’t go wrong:

  • Think about your audience – what will they be interested in, and why are they sitting there wanting to listen to you?  And another set of considerations:  what is the environment like, what equipment will you have available, how big is the room and how will people be sitting? Can you engage with the audience? And most importantly how much time you have to speak! Once you’ve thought about this, you’re ready to get on with planning the presentation.
  • Establish your message – When delivering a presentation, you’ll find that focus and organisation are even more critical than in written work so be very selective in the material you choose to present. Establish your messaging early on so you’re audience remains engaged; remember you’re trying to tell a good story, keeping to the plot.
  • Practice, practice and then practice again – To draw on old clichés, practice makes make perfect. If you’re presenting to a large audience, think about recording yourself using a video camera so you can spot and straighten out any potential glitches. It’s also a good way to keep track of your timing. If you have someone willing to listen in, a ‘dress rehearsal’ so you’re practicing at least once in conditions as close to ‘real’ as possible is a great way to iron out any potential kinks in your delivery.
  • Keep to the point – On the day, stick to your points, talk positively and clearly and you’ll make for easy listening.  Remember to illustrate your points using examples or case studies rather than just pointing to a list of bullet points on PowerPoint.
  • End on a high note – Sum up decisively so things don’t peter out but, at the same time, don’t rush through the end in an attempt to get it over and done with.  Reiterate your main message and end on a positive note. And don’t forget to leave a couple of minutes for questions; ones which, if you’ve done your homework, you’ll be well prepared to answer.

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