The ability to give good presentations is a critical skill in the working lives of many professionals and businesspeople. Attorneys, managers, marketers, and teachers are just a few examples of where creating and delivering a quality presentation can set you apart from your peers. Failure to connect with your audience during your presentation can put a dent in your reputation as well as hurt your business’ bottom line.
Preparation is a key for many human endeavors, and giving presentations is certainly one of them. In the absence of planning, even the best extemporaneous speaker cannot be expected to maintain an interesting or compelling thread when attempting to convey complex topics. Poor preparation is a recipe for a bad presentation.
Even if you believe that you give the best presentations on the planet, there is always room for improvement. Here are 5 tips for you to consider using when you are preparing for your next presentation.
1. Understand Your Audience
The purpose of giving a presentation is to present information to a group of people. You may be explaining a new business strategy to your employees, or pitching an investment opportunity to a room full of financiers. No matter what the point of your presentation is, you will be attempting to influence your audience to agree with your point of view concerning the topic.
According to Business Insider, researching your audience is a vital step in creating a successful presentation. Before you even begin to prepare for your presentation, you should conduct research in an attempt to better understand your audience. You need to have a good image in your mind of who you will be speaking to before you can craft a message that will reach them.
If possible, learn the names some of the individuals who will be part of your audience and speak directly to them. This is a powerful tactic to win over the crowd as they feel a connection to you and are likely to give you more of their attention.
2. Rehearsal is Critical
When you are preparing for an important presentation, there is no such thing as too much practice and rehearsal. There several ways to practice, and each has a benefit for the speaker. First, you should practice in front of people. They could be family members or colleagues at work, but you want to rehearse in front of a live audience.
The group you select to be your practice group can assist in the next type of practice which is practicing with distractions. While giving your live presentation, you may be faced with distractions that are completely unexpected. You want to be able to shrug these off and continue without acting surprised or stumbling through the next minute of your talk. Encourage your practice audience to create a few distractions so you can learn how to handle them.
Record your presentation so you can review it on the evening before you actually present it. A great way to conduct your final review is with some high-quality headphones and a headphone amplifier like the Chord Hugo 2. These portable devices will allow you to get incredible sound quality no matter where you are.
It may also be a good idea to make sure you have a spare USB to USB cable for charging and powering your devices.
3. Create a Strong Ending to Your Presentation
Many presentations end with question and answer sessions. This has almost become the standard, and many audiences are disappointed if questions are not entertained by the presenter. Taking questions may result in your audience leaving your presentation without the takeaway that you desire, as you cannot control the question and answer period fully.
The most important part of your presentation is the beginning and the ending. At the start, you want to interest your audience and pull them in so they stay focused on your complete presentation. The last thing your audience hears will be one of the main things they remember.
Finish your presentation with a strong ending that drives home your points. Question and answer sessions are fine, but get back to your presentation before closing and you will find your talk has a greater impact on your audience.
4. Keep Your Pitch to 3 Key Points
According to Scott Schwertly, CEO of Ethos3, a presentation design company, the human capacity for remembering items communicated in a presentation is limited. Avoid the temptation to demonstrate your complete mastery of the subject matter. The purpose of your presentation is to influence the audience in a positive way. It is not to showcase your knowledge.
Focusing on 3 key points allows you to ensure that your audience exits your presentation with a clear understanding of your product or idea. Further communications can come at a later time to clarify fine points and delve deeper into the details of your topic. You want your audience to leave your presentation with a clear understanding of the points you were trying to convey. Narrowing your focus is a proven way to accomplish this goal.
5. Use Simple Slides
This tip is related to the practice of limiting yourself to 3 key points. A situation you want to avoid at all costs is to overwhelm your audience with extraneous detail. This tends to lead to a distracted group of listeners and poses the risk that you will negatively impact their interest in your material. Your audience will become distracted trying to read the text and pay less attention to what you are saying.
A powerful slide should have an image and no more than 15 words on it. The slide is meant to support a point you are making verbally, not to explain a complicated topic in depth. Use a large font for any accompanying text on your slide, so it can be read easily by anyone in the room. Keep important text at the top of the slide so your audience is forced to read it when looking at the slide.
We hope these tips help you in preparing for your next presentation. Take the time to thoroughly prepare before you face your audience and you will have a much greater chance of delivering a successful presentation that motivates your listeners.
What is your best advice for preparing a presentation? Leave us a comment with your best tips in the section below.