Delivering good presentations can be easy if you follow several rules. However, if your product or service is not of good quality, no presentation in the world can sell it. Maybe people would buy it once but they would never repeat purchase.
The other way around, if your product is great but you have a lousy presentation, nobody will want to try it (unless you give it for free, but this is rather charity than business).
Presentation skills can be learned. There’s nothing more than 5 steps to follow:
- Write it good.
- There is a rule for writing PowerPoint presentations, called the 10/20/30 rule, detailed by Guy Kawasaki in his blog. This is an excellent rule to make your point without becoming boring for your audience.
- Don’t exaggerate with visual effects, as people can get lost in those transitions, letters wandering around, fading, scrolling or whatever else.
- Don’t use sound effects, unless you make sure they work properly and that your audience likes that kind of stuff. I remember attending a presentation once, where the presenter had a applause effect on a slide. Unfortunately, she did not present from her own computer, something was scrambled at the transfer and instead of applause, we all heard loud and clear the “muuuuuuu” of a cow.
- Don’t use the same presentation for everybody: each client or each audience has its particularities, so you may want to adjust some slides to fit into your audience’s profile.
- Prepare yourself.
- Imagine an iceberg: all you can see is 1/10 of it, the rest of 9/10 being under water. The presentation delivery itself is like the tip of the iceberg: 1/10 of the total work. The rest of 9/10 is preparation. Rehearse the presentation until you know it by heart, think of all things to be said for each slide (as slides should not contain a lot of information, transforming you into a slow, boring reader).
- If possible, rehearse in the room where it is going to take place, make sure that all technical equipment is functioning and get yourself used to the place.
- Exercise your gestures. If you emphasize the important points with your hands, the audience will better remember them. You can use a mirror or you can record yourself and then analyse the recording, until you make sure that you transmit exactly the desired message.
- Arrive early. You don’t want to run on the stage in the last moment, with your clothes in disorder and running short on breath because of your hurry.
- Deliver your presentation with confidence.
- Speak loud. This shows confidence in what you say. Yet, try not to shout at people (this is why rehearsal on the spot is important; it allows you to adjust your volume).
- Keep in touch with your audience, make sure you have eye contact with all of them. This makes each on them feel that you are directly addressing to him.
- Watch them. Body language is an invaluable tool for taking the pulse of your presentation. If you see boredom signs, try to revive the attention. If you see signs of interest on a particular slide, you may want to step in more details, as people want to hear them.
- Follow up with your audience
- Allow people to ask questions.
- Be prepared with answers to a list of possible questions.
- Ask your audience for approval from time to time. You can use rhetoric questions, isn’t it? This is psychological: saying yes, or making approval signs with the head make people more open and willing to listen to your proposal.
- Use feedback to fine-tune your presentation
- Listen thoroughly to the feedback people give you.
- If something went wrong, learn your lesson and use it to make things better next time.
- If something went unexpectedly good, look into how you did it, so you can repeat your performance.
- Last but not least, you can take models. Read some good literature on presentation skills. Learn from people who did it well and who deciphered the “how to do it” algorithm. Always think that if another human being did it, you can do it as well. All it takes is to figure out how to get it done.
Henry Ford had a memorable saying:
“If you think you can do it, you’re right. If you think you can’t do it, you’re right.”
What about you, folks?