Your clients are the entire reason that your business exists, so when presenting to them, you need to get their attention right from the first sentence. This is not easy. The tolerance people once had for poor speakers with slides crammed with boring data has gone. Audiences expect to be thrilled; they expect fluid, well-designed, and natural presentations. The good news is that anyone can deliver a great presentation, you just need to be aware of what to do and how to do it effectively.
With the following tips, your presentation will be powerful and memorable.
1. Watch the opening and the closing
It matters how you begin and how you end. Begin with a short and powerful statement, introduce your topic and do something to grab attention straight away. You could start by asking a question, such as “raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced…”, and follow your presentation on from the results. This will spike interest immediately. The end to your presentation should be just as impactful, as this may be what they most remember of you.
2. Tell a story
Keep their attention by telling them a story. Explain how your message fits into the real world. Involve real people in your presentation and make it relatable and easy to visualise. Your speech may be forgotten in the next hour, but your story will have a lasting impact. This is a technique that experts in coaching presentation skills highlight the power of, so if you want to master it, try talking to them.
Move around and reach out to your audience. The stage is your space for the 20 or so minutes you have for the presentation, so own that space as much as you possibly can. You might be scared, terrified even, but the movement will give your audience an impression of confidence and control. The movement will make the audience feel like they are in a conversation with you and will help keep them focussed.
Ask a question and point to someone for an answer. Did you ever watch Steve Jobs present? That man dominated his space. Look at the former President Bill Clinton. These two presenters realised that they were the most important aspect of the presentation. The audience is not in control, you are. This does not mean that you should pace around like a scared child, or click your pen, or move in circles. Move around in confident strides, touch the screen, and own your space. Talk to them, not at them.
Don’t talk the entire time continuously, give your listeners time to reflect. Bring some water to the stage and occasionally sip on it. This may help to calm your nerves and shows that you are at ease, even if you can’t wait for it to end. Time your pauses correctly; try a statement like “We are all responsible for this,” and the take your pause and watch how eagerly your clients will wait for a solution. Do not, however, go completely mute when you see your most important client in the back; that is bad.
5. It’s okay to make mistakes
You are human, and you will make mistakes often. It is not about the mistake; it is about the recovery. Try to come back gracefully, and even make a joke out of it. The audience aren’t going to mind if you make a mistake, as long as you keep moving forward afterwards. If you can laugh and forget about it, so can they.
6. Perfect the slides
There should be consistency in your slides. You might deliver the perfect speech, but if you have messy slides, then you are back to square one. Confused slides say you are confused, too much data says you don’t have a precise point to make. The slides are an extension of you and what you are saying, so let them reflect exactly how you feel.
This might be the most important element to delivering a presentation. Whatever product you are selling, make sure you fully believe in it, and in yourself. Presenting the problem and the solution could get the attention of your audience, but your clients need someone who is fully dedicated to their product; so show them that you are enthusiastic. This part you cannot fake, for it will show in the way you speak, the way you move and the way you respond to any questions.
Is there excitement in your voice, does your face suddenly light up when you describe your business? Did the presentation of the solution give you a gust of energy? The truth is if you cannot be excited about your business, then you have no business selling it to others.
With these tips, you should be covered, and getting some presentation training to perfect your skills will go a long way to help you master the stage.