Despite the willingness of modern business to rely on the Internet, one still cannot ignore good old presentations delivered face-to-face. It doesn’t matter to whom you deliver them – to business colleagues, potential investors or people you need feedback from – a successful presentation makes all the difference in the world. And remember: a presentation is not simply a collection of slides with some captions. It is everything you do: voice, body language, choice of words, everything. Want to know more? Read the tips below.
1. Capture Their Attention First
Delivering a business presentation is akin to giving a speech – if you don’t capture the listeners’ attention from the get-go, you have already failed. That’s why it is important to establish your credibility in the very beginning, and do it concisely. No prolonged enumeration of your major career steps, no company’s history – just a short intro that will make them believe you are about to say something relevant. A great way to capture attention is to discuss work that went into the project, or a particular experience associated with it, for example.
2. Deliver, Don’t Read
If you’ve been present at any number of business presentations, you probably know that sitting through a presentation reading from notes is one of the most boring experiences in business. If you read your entire presentation, you do not simply fail to engage your audience, you threaten to bore them to death. Therefore, bear in mind that you are going to deliver your presentation, not read it word-for word. You already have visual aids before you, so use them. Prepare some very basic notes that will help you remember crucial facts, but use them only in emergencies. Write down the speech and memorize it if you are no good at impromptu delivery – just don’t read it.
3. Time Your Presentation Carefully
One of the most important aspects of a good presentation is timing: how many slides there are, for how long to show each slide and so on. Some experts will tell you a particular ratio, like one slide per minute; truth is, there is no optimal solution. Timing of a presentation depends on a thousand factors. How good of a speaker you are? If you can go on and on without having to rely on graphics and without losing the attention of your audience, you won’t need to change slides often. How complex are the ideas you are talking about? If it is a complicated technical matter, each slide may take several minutes to go through. How many different ideas are you tackling? Will all your slides demand equal time to explain or will there be several types of them? Consider all these matters carefully and make enough test runs to be absolutely sure.
4. Use Correct Body Language
Not being confident enough can force you to rush through your presentation, failing to engage and, what’s more important, benefit your audience. In order to avoid it, you should practice not only the speech you are going to deliver, but body language as well. If you make the right gestures in the process, not only will you appear to be more confident, you will feel so as well. Keep your back straight, smile at your audience, look your audience in the eye and try to gesticulate the way you usually do, in non-theatrical manner. Use physical space you have and walk around – it will give your speech movement and let you feel less stiff and constrained. Too many people fixate on one audience member. Never forget to move your eyes around the room so everyone knows that you are presenting to them.
Delivering presentations is hard. Try using these tips and you will discover that by simply gaining control over some parts of your task you will feel more in control in general.
Featured photo credit: Presentation/katharineelizabethtaylor via flickr.com