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4 Effective Presentation Techniques

4 Effective Presentation Techniques

Presentation Tips

    Every once in a while, we are entrusted with the task of presentation. It may be to demo a new product, to present a plan or to explain a new process that you’ve helped create. Whatever the reason and however many presentations you’ve given before, it’s something that not everyone is comfortable doing.

    Here are some of the presentation techniques that I’ve learnt in my experience to help you conduct an effective presentation.

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    Setting the stage

    Always start with an intro. Take half a minute to introduce yourself to all the attendees. If the demo is between 2 teams, your team has to be introduced as well, in which case it is better to let everyone introduce themselves. I say a half a minute for each person attending. Same goes for the other team in the room or on the phone or on the screen (video conferencing). This way you set the stage for a collaborative, interactive meeting. I will talk more about this later in this post.

    Do a brief intro on the subject of the demo. If you are doing a demo of a new product or an updated version of the product, take a few minutes to talk about the product, its purpose, the business need, etc. Take 3 minutes tops.

    Reserve a minute to explain the structure of your presentation. Obviously, you have thought through the topics you will cover, the depth to which you will go, etc. So, don’t keep it a secret; provide a “roadmap”. You don’t want anyone getting lost. It is a good habit to give handouts of this “roadmap” to everyone – a one pager.

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    Setting the stage should take you around 5 to 10 mins, depending on the number of people attending. I say keep the audience to around 10 people to have an effective presentation, unless of course you are Martin Luther King or Obama.

    Force a pause

    When you dive into the meat of your presentation, do not talk away as if there is no end. It may sound like you are rambling. You do this maybe because you are fast talker by nature or maybe you’re just plain nervous. In any case, a presentation needs “forced pauses”. To be effective, you have to cultivate this habit. You want to give an opportunity for the audience to digest all the information and think through it for a minute or two. A good practice is to plan your “forced pauses” out such that you can invite questions from your audience.

    In the beginning, I know it will be tough to implement this but trust me: you will get used to it.

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    Don’t do all the talking

    Make it interactive. Pass the ball around whenever you can. Let everyone participate. Remember when you attended a demo meeting and hoped no one will notice you dozing off. Well, you did that because you were bored. It is not (always) your fault. I say the presenter made it boring. He or she did not invoke your thoughts and make it interesting enough for you. So, when you are the presenter, please don’t make the same mistake. Let everyone participate. Think of it as a few moments you introduce to help you relax and refocus.

    Ice-breakers

    The most effective presentations or meetings that I’ve attended were those that were informative and enjoyable at the same time. These are meetings where the presenter or an attendee sneaks in some witty remarks – the ice-breakers.

    How many, how often and what kind of jokes you introduce will matter here and if you push it too far over the limit, it can kill your presentation and most likely you would never present again. So, I must warn you that this technique is not for everyone. Its success is very dependent on your wits, the timing, the audience and most importantly your presentation style, which will differ from person to person. But if you can work it, you have a powerful presentation tool.

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    These are some of the many techniques that will make you an effective presenter. You may already be one or you maybe one in the making. Do send in your comments and share your tips and tricks with the rest of the world. Don’t keep it a secret.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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