The ability to deliver a great presentation is not something that is exclusively useful for corporate meetings and business pitch presentations. In fact, the ability to express an idea in a clear and entertaining way can be used in your professional and personal life. Even trivial conversations you have can benefit from your ability to deliver a great presentation!

1. You’re telling a story

Remember that you are telling a story. It may seem odd to think of a business pitch or a presentation on a technical topic as a story, but the truth is, every presentation is a story. It’s your story, so you need to articulate a clear beginning, middle, and ending. Every good story has a protagonist and an antagonist, so make these players known. Once you translate your idea into a structured story, the audience can appreciate and grasp what you say much easier. Audience retention will increase significantly if you can transform your presentation into a story. This is especially important for business presentations and sales pitches.

2. Take the Steve Jobs approach

Everyone knows that Steve Jobs is the king of delivering great presentations, so much so that his methodology is studied and taught in academia around the world. Here are a few actionable approaches you can use the next time you deliver a presentation or sell an idea.

  • Deliver the big picture before the details. Find a way to get the big idea across before you jump into your product, idea, or opinion. This initial step lays the foundation for the rest of your discussion and provides context for your thoughts.
  • Remember that you’re telling a story and introduce the antagonist. Every good story has a protagonist and an antagonist, be sure to introduce your characters clearly.
  • Once the audience is familiar with the antagonist, introduce the hero of your story and sell the benefits of your idea or product. Remember that you’re not selling a product directly, but rather the benefits that your product offers the users.
  • If you’re using numbers to convey your idea, put the numbers into context or embed their impact in a physical thing that is relatable to. Numbers that serve as simple statistics lack the impact that a physical item carries.
  • End with the “one more thing…” idea. Shock your audience when they think you’re done and have said everything you have to share. This will turn a great presentation into an unbelievable one.

3. The audience wants you to be great

If you’re speaking to your family and friends or in front of an audience in which you’re a guest speaker, the people in front of you care enough to listen. If your audience cares enough to listen, then they want to see a great presentation. Walking to the stage with the notion that the audience wants you to succeed is a reinforcing thought to help you maintain confidence and deliver an awesome presentation.

4. If you’ve opted to use power point, pictures trump text

No one wants to watch you read information off a slide. This means you need beautiful photos that cue you to say what you want to say. A photo with a few words accompanied with a rehearsed delivery is a much better slide than one filled with bullet points. In fact, never use bullet points. Bullet points should be weaved into a story that captivates the audience. A story is much easier to recall for your audience and is likely to have a much larger impact.

5. Quotes are a powerful way to drive a point home

Including quotes in your presentation help to drive a point home. Typically, it is better to use quotes that are noteworthy or originated from a wise person who is perhaps a respected or well-received person in a field. This helps the audience to confirm that what you are saying is logical and valid, even if you don’t have quantifiable evidence. This doesn’t mean you should falsify information, but it does serve as a simple way to reassure the audience that you’re correct, especially when you are restricted by time. The inclusion of a powerful quotation can also provide depth and insight into your presentation. Using a proper quote to back an idea up can create inspiration and truly captivate your audience.

6. Pace the stage, don’t be caught frozen

Do NOT stand in one spot and regurgitate a speech or presentation from memory. If you pace the stage in a comfortable way, your audience will feel more relaxed too. This is natural and is important to deliver a powerful presentation. When you learn to pace the stage, you as the speaker will feel more relaxed and probably more enjoyable to watch.

7. Transitional language is equally important as the content in the headlines

If your presentation is broken up by a number of unnecessary transitional words and you don’t properly transition from idea to idea, your audience will lose interest and miss the essence of your presentation. Eloquent transitions to weave multiple ideas together will have a jaw dropping effect on your audience. Try it and see what happens. This requires practice and unless you have a wicked command over the English language, winging this part will leave you with a mediocre presentation and an overly polite, pitiful audience.

Being nervous about a presentation is pretty normal. 6 Secrets of Bad Presentations (and How to Avoid Them)

Featured photo credit: michael+yan via photopin cc

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