Presentation skills are critical in most professions. Because regardless if you work in the corporate world or if you are an entrepreneur, you will likely be making some type of presentations at some point in time. The goal of each presentation is to effectively convey the message: whether you are trying to sell a product, preset results of an analysis, or sell an idea. Having the ability to deliver effective presentations is something that will help you advance in your career, or if you are an entrepreneur, it will help you grow your business.
Here are five tips on how to deliver effective presentations. You can implement them all right away and I promise they will make a huge difference.
1. Know Your Audience
Before you start working on your presentation, you need to determine who is your audience. In other words, who will be listening to your presentation?
Your audience should determine the content of your presentation. For example, if you are creating a presentation about a new initiative at work, the way you design it will depend on whether you are presenting to the leadership of to the organization or to the end users, or the employees directly affected by the initiative.
If you are presenting to the leadership, you will want to concentrate on concepts like how does the new initiative fit into the goals of the organization, performance metrics, and resources required from managers in order to implement it. But if your audience consists of people who will be directly impacted by the initiative, then you will want to discuss the time committment required from each employee, implementation timeframe, and how their work processes will change.
If you don’t consider your audience when creating your presentation, you will likely have a hard time keeping them engaged.
2. Why should THEY care?
Once you know who your audience is, it critical that within a first couple of minutes of your presentation you make it very clear why they should pay attention. You need to tell them what’s in it for them.
Perhaps, the product you are trying to sell will solve one of the problems they have identified last year. Or maybe, the new idea you are discussing will decrease the amount of time they have to spend on creating reports every month?
In order to deliver effective presentations, you have to make sure that they know what problem you are solving for them and you need to do it at the beginning of your presentation. This will peak their interest, help make a direct connection between their problem and your solution, and will keep them engaged for the reminder of the presentation.
3. Less is Better
When you start populating your slides, remember that less is better. The number one mistake that I see in presentations is including too many details on the slides. ‘
Guess what is happening when the slides are too busy? People try to read them instead of listening to you! So keep it simple, and only highlight the main points on your slides. You will cover all the necessary details when you talk.
I have heard many times that the reason why people are putting all the details on the slides is because they will provide them to those who could not attend the meeting. And providing slides with high overview will not allow the readers to understand the message that you were trying to convey.
There is a simple solution to that – you can put all the details in the notes section! That way your audience will not be distracted with busy slides during the presentation, but those who missed it, can review it in detail and get a good understanding of the topic you were presenting on.
4. Practice, practice, practice
The next step to make sure that your presentation is effective is to practice what you will say. It may seem very obvious, but many people underestimate the amount of time that should be dedicated to this step. Going over the presentation once will not cut it!
Practicing will help you:
- Ensure you are not going over the alloted time. The more you practice the more concise your speech will be.
- Identify any areas of your presentation that need adjustments. Maybe you will notice that the topics you have listed on slide 2 do not flow and you need to re-arrange the order.
- Improve your delivery. Practicing will make your communication seem effortless to your audience.
- Improve your self-confidence. Practicing will help feel more comfortable and confident about the topic of your presentation.
If you have the opportunity to practice in front of one of your peers – do it. And keep practicing whenever you find a few minutes. Get creative – practice when you shower or when you’re cooking or washing dishes. I like to practice my presentations when I’m driving. And don’t worry. Nobody will think that you are weird. They will assume you’re talking on the speaker phone.
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5. Anticipate questions
The last tip that I have for you to deliver effective presentations is to anticipate the questions your audience may ask. And not just the easy questions. Think about what challenging questions people might ask you.
For example, if your presentation talked about a product, idea, or an initiative that involves implementation of change, I can guarantee you that you that there will be resistance. Therefore, you can anticipate questions that challenge the need for the change. Why do we need to fix something that is not broken? We had this procedure in place for the past 10 years and we don’t see the need to change it. Or, maybe someone will point out that the department already tried a similar product last year and it was a waste of time, and he or she will want to know why do you think it will be different this time.
Therefore, spend some time thinking about the possible questions your audience might ask you, and prepare your answer. If you get a question asked during a presentation and do not know the answer it, be honest. Say that you do not know the answer to the question, but you think it is important to address. Explain that you will reach out to the appropriate person and get back to them with the answer. And make sure that your do!
Now It’s Time to Work on Your Presentations
Let me know in the comments what is your biggest challenge when it comes to presentations? And if you have any additional tips on how to deliver effective presentations, share them below!