Update 15th Aug 2020

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When you want to convey a message to a room full of people it pays to know how to give a really good presentation. Look around you, some of the most successful people in the world seem to be born to do it. But what’s the one thing they all have in common? There was a time when they were nervously trying to sleep the night before their first work presentation. Here’s a few tips on how you can set yourself on the path to becoming a presentation pro…

Be the Backdrop

You want your audience to focus on nothing but what’s coming out of your mouth. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking to your boss and the rest of their team in a departmental setting, or you’re trying to showcase your brand at a large conference; the same things apply. By being the backdrop you’re connecting with your audience and having them hang on your every word. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use PowerPoint or that you have to stand on an otherwise bare stage. What it means is you have to dominate the stage with your personality. Let your charisma shine through, show the room you’re at ease, and don’t stay rooted to the spot. In fact, a little lateral movement is the perfect way to keep your audience alert and engaged.

Be Economical with Everything, Except the Truth

This one probably sounds obvious, but think about what it’s really saying. By ‘truth’ here I mean the facts that support your argument. You want to make sure that they’re prominent in your talk and easily understood. That way it’s clear to your audience what you’re getting at and what you want them to take away from your presentation. You don’t achieve this with endless signposting and raising your voice; you do it by keeping everything else to a minimum when you can. Ask yourself whether you really need that fancy animation, or whether you need 5 minutes of preamble to frame the issue. If in doubt cut it out and then practice with your family or a trusted colleague to see if you’ve achieved the desired result.

Say Something of Value in the First 5 Seconds

There’s nothing worse than sitting through a presentation and trying to guess what’s going on is there? You don’t want to be the person waffling for 15 minutes whilst everyone looks blank, so don’t be! Find a way to introduce your talk in a single sentence. Assume you’re speaking to a mixture of laymen and experts so that you go easy on the jargon, but aren’t overly prescriptive. This will allow you to draw in the maximum number of people in the first 5 seconds.

The Devil is in the Detail

Whilst you don’t want to bombard people with statistics, you do need to stay on point and be specific. Try and structure your presentation so that people take away 2-3 key points and then find the data and facts that support these points. Avoid the dreaded sporting metaphors or tired old cliches and stick to the details. If you deliver them with a touch of charisma then there’ll be no need to introduce overly elaborate turns of phrase to connect with your audience. 

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