Welcome the group to the presentation.
Introduce yourself. Tell the audience your name, your title and the name of your company. Introduce other members of your team who are present. If the group is small, ask members of the audience to introduce themselves.
Discuss the purpose of your presentation. The purpose of your presentation might be to inform the audience about a new product or service offered by your company or to provide information about a partnership or investment with your company. Limit the discussion of the purpose to a few sentences. The Pearson Education website suggests including a dramatic quotation, startling statistic or surprising information to start off the presentation on a powerful note.
Explain what you will tell the audience. For example, you might explain that you will discuss the features of your company’s new dishwasher/clothing washer appliance. List the features that the audience will hear about, such as space-saving design, low price, minimal water usage and the way consumers will switch the appliance from clothes washer to dish washer mode.
Finish the introduction section with information regarding questions. You might ask audience members to hold questions to the end of the presentation or may tell them to feel free to ask
One in 25 people reported walking out on a presentation that lasted too long. Another 25 percent of people admitted to having been so uninterested in the material that they had fallen asleep. And one out of every 12 people had been so unengaged by a business presentation that they spent time browsing a dating app.
Poor presentation skills are costing businesses time, money and opportunities. For entrepreneurs and small business owners who rely on presentations to secure new investments or land big client accounts, a bad presentation can be the difference between success and failure.
Strong presentation skills, on the other hand, help a business stand out from the competition, connect with new clients and make an impression on industry leaders.
What differentiates a strong presentation from a boring one? According to James Ontra, CEO of Shufflrr, it comes down to these four things.
Ontra recommends thinking about every presentation not as a discrete set of slides, but as a part of your overall marketing efforts. This means that every time you prepare a presentation, you should think strategically.
Don’t focus solely on what will happen while you are speaking. Instead, structure your presentation around what you want to happen afterwards. Ask yourself:
What do I want people to remember at the end of my presentation?
What next step do I want them to take when we are done?
How can I gain my audience’s trust?
That last one is particularly important, because the face-to-face interaction of a presentation often makes more of an impression than any other form of communication.
Those who give presentations at conferences, as part of a sales demo, in a marketing push for a new product, or even during a TED talk know how to wow an audience. They excel at turning a boring presentation into something people will talk about in the hallway and even on the ride back to the office. Recently, the folks at FlowVella–an app for making presentations on computer, phone, and tablet–sent me tips from some of their customers on how to make sure your presentation is a winner.
1. Tell a story.
“Instead of boring your audience to tears, develop a genuine connection with your audience. How? Throughout your presentation, tell stories that add meaning and depth to your message. Telling personal stories will make you more likable, trustworthy, and interesting. In addition, facts and stats typically stimulate only two areas of the human brain, but stories can activate up to seven, and trigger emotional responses within listeners. Presentations that are engaging both mentally and emotionally are more memorable and influential, thus more successful.”
2. Vary the template.
“If it looks stock, it probably is. Altering an existing template doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time. It also indicates that the presenter knows how to represent the idea and narrative visually. Don’t be afraid to change colors, add logos, and alter the elements for a totally unique look with just a few minutes of work. Font selection is very important. The font is not just a typeface. It represents the idea through the actual look of the word. It should align with the tone of the core idea/narrative. Furthermore, font selection is most critical for readability. Adding a bursting star doesn’t mean you are increasing the impact of a point or a component of a slide/frame. Instead, add punch with mixed media. Bringing an idea or point to life through text, images, photography, video, etc., is much more memorable than cheap movements. Your software should allow for insertion of PDFs and video.
3. Use a storyboard.
“The most traditional (and foolish) way to create a presentation is to open up a blank PowerPoint document and try to make magic happen. This can result in mistakes in flow, logic, and overall cohesion, as you try to write and design each concept in real time. Steal a writer’s tip and create a text-only framework for the entire thing before you launch into the full draft. It’s just like the outline you used to create for fifth-grade book reports, where all of your sub points support your main points, and the intro and outro tie everything together. Aim for a single summary of your core idea, supported by three smaller sub points that will prove your summary. And of course, don’t start to design your work without making sure that the outline is airtight. The result? No more strange tangents, lost points, and unnecessary slides.”
“If you lose them in your presentation, all your other marketing won’t make a difference,” Ontra said. “If you don’t gain trust, no matter what else [your audience] read or saw on TV, [they] would discount all of it.”
By thinking strategically, you put yourself in the mindset to create a presentation that supports your other marketing efforts and connects with your audience.
According to Ontra, there is nothing worse than learning the contents of a presentation as you speak.
“You’ve got to take a moment to know the content,” Ontra said. “If you can’t speak confidently and conversationally, people will know you’re not the expert they’re looking for.” And if you fail to demonstrate your expertise, your audience is going to lose interest before they come to trust your business.
Taking time to prepare and know your material is key to an engaging presentation, no matter who you are speaking to or what topic you are covering.
Knowing your material doesn’t mean memorizing a script. Rather, understand what you are trying to communicate and why, including:
Information you want to cover, including any statistics
The flow of the material
The goals of the presentation
Any questions that your audience may ask
Ontra suggests familiarizing yourself with your content such that you can carry on without any of the technology or visual aids that you prepared.
“If you were one-on-one in the elevator without a slide,” he said, “how would you explain that slide to a person?”
You should be able to answer that question for every portion of your presentation. The first few moments of a presentation are critical, Ontra said. This is when you have to capture your audience’s attention and convince them to listen to the rest of your presentation.
Ontra recommends using a simple tactic: Start your presentation with a small story or anecdote about your business, then relate that anecdote back to your audience.
“Use something that captures curiosity,” he said, or something surprising. If you can get them to imagine something – the dripping of a leaky pipe or the sick feeling in your stomach when you lose your wallet – it will instantly help your audience relate to what you are talking about.
If you aren’t sure where to start, Google “surprising statistics” plus the name of your industry. According to Ontra, you’ll always find something useful. Once you have your audience’s attention, it can be intimidating to speak persuasively and confidently, especially if you are not comfortable with public speaking.
To overcome your anxiety, Ontra suggests picking one person in the audience to speak to. Never choose the person who intimidates you the most. Instead, “pick a friendly face in the crowd and speak to them,” he said. “Then everyone will hear that same confident message.”
By speaking as if you were talking to a friend, you presentation will naturally sound conversational and candid, rather than memorized and rehearsed.
How do you sound conversational when delivering a presentation that you’ve prepared extensively for? Don’t read what’s written on your slides. Instead, Ontra said, “visualize your slides. Put an image in your mind for each one … Something that cues you so you can talk about it, not something that cues you off so you say words that have been memorized.”
If you become nervous or lose your place, Ontra suggested remembering that all you are doing is telling a story. “Presentations are corporate storytelling. If you can tell the story of your company with a short message and have it reinforced with a visual slide, you’re in.”