You've done your planning, investigation, and now you are ready to present your solution or credentials. Both how and what you present will have a significant impact on the outcome. Here are six tips for ensuring your presentation is lean and purposeful:
1) Less is more
Regardless of how many excellent points are mentioned in your presentation, the audience will only easily remember one, two or three of them.
Less is more and you need to make sure that the two or three points the audience recalls are the two or three you wanted remembered.
As you put together the body of your presentation, occasionally stop and ask yourself: "What does this section contribute to those main points?" If you can't find a good answer, leave the section out.
2) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
A remarkable number of presenters seem to do their best to avoid rehearsals before major presentations, often with very different excuses. Some say that rehearsal stifles creativity and creates "robots". Others say, "I can't rehearse, because I'm not ready."
Rehearsal is simply a means of helping you get ready for the presentation. It's absolutely OK when rehearsing if you aren't ready and therefore can change parts of your presentation easily.
Regardless of the size of the room in which you will be presenting, get into it before the presentation starts. Stand in the place where you will be when you present and look around the room. Visualise the people sitting in the chairs and imagine talking to them, one at a time. You will feel a degree of comfort from getting used to the size of the room, the distances, the relative heights and lines of eye contact.
Anchor yourself to that spot by tapping the laptop or table in front of you. When it's your turn to speak, step up to that same place, tap again, and the same degree of comfort that you had during your rehearsal will come back to you.
Rid your mind of distractions by physically rehearsing the mechanics of the presentation. You can then focus on the most important component of the event - the listeners.
3) What's in it for the listener?
Will the audience be able to relate to your presentation? If you are rehearsing alone, put yourself in the shoes of the listener and read through your presentation, studying it from their perspective. Be brutal with yourself. "As the listener, do I really need to know that? Do I know it already? So what? How does it affect me?"
Done well, the read through will chop up to 30 per cent from a sloppy presentation.
4) Visual aids
Don't let the visual aids dominate your presentation. Make sure the visuals add to your presentation, rather than subtract from it by keeping all the attention off you.
Check out each slide. What is the point and relevance of the slide? If you can't answer this question then delete it!
5) Building audience rapport
People accept the message of presenters who prove they understand the audience's business. People buy from people who have listened intelligently and who have shown an interest in the issues they face.
Battles are not won solely during the presentation, but before, during and after the process of the presentation. When the presentation begins, you should have a firm understanding of the audience's business. The language you use during your presentation should be their language, reflecting the terminology of their business and industry.
Arm yourself with information that will show the audience you already have a reasonable understanding of their business.
6) Sounding natural
Do you sound natural? How you write is very different to how you speak. Ask yourself what you really want to say, rather than regurgitating something you have read somewhere or heard someone else say. To ensure a warm conversational tone, imagine the audience are friends sitting at your dinner table. You are talking to each of them, one by one. So now you have your message and how to deliver it - go get 'em!
Anna Raine is a senior consultant at Rogen International. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org