Got a presentation coming up soon?
Here are 7 killer presentation techniques to help you get through your presentation confidently and make it a success.
1. Show the audience you’re listening
Here’s how you shouldn’t do a presentation:
The way everyone else typically does it.
Typically, business presentations consist of a reluctant employee talking “at” an audience.
Best case scenario, the presentation is a lecture. Worst case, the audience gets to look at the back of the presenter’s head while he or she reads bullet points to them.
So, how do you show the audience you’re listening and why does it matter?
It matters because if the audience thinks your’re listening, they feel you actually care about them and the impact your presentation has on them. If they feel you care, they are more likely to listen to you.
You show you’re listening by starting from a position of empathy. Think about the audience and the troubles they do, or will, experience in their jobs related to your presentation topic.
Perhaps you’re going to be talking about a new process which is likely to inconvenience the audience with increased work flow. It can be tempting to deliver a “There’s nothing we can do” or “Management has mandated this so just accept it” directive style of presentation.
But, here’s the thing…
Empathizing with your audience, instead of being directive, is likely to make the presentation easier on you and get buy-in from your audience more easily.
Here’s how to do it:
First, be honest and avoid dressing things up (no matter how much lipstick you put on a pig it’s still a pig). If your presentation is going to inconvenience the audience, state it simply and clearly; Tell them you understand how this is going to be a pain.
Second, tell the audience the broader benefits of what you are asking them to do. The new process might be a pain now, but in the future their lives will be easier because of improved processes.
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2. Lead with how you can help
Your audience doesn’t want to hear about you, your achievements, or how excited you are about this project.
They want to hear about what’s in it for them.
They’re taking time out of their already busy schedules to sit in a meeting room and listen to you. Now they want some pay back. Now they want to hear about what you can do for them.
Give them what they want by framing your presentation around them and their needs.
“Here’s how I’m going to save you 15 minutes every day” is a much better opener than, “I’m really excited to show you the new timecard system.”
All the planning you do in your presentation should be done with a focus on WIIFT (What’s In It For Them). Additionally, evaluate your talk prior to delivery and ask yourself, “how will my audience react to this?”
3. See questions as opportunities
Questions are the worst, right?
You’ve sweated through a 20 minute presentation and now you’re being hit with tough questions from all sides.
The euphoria you felt as you finally got to the end of your talk is replaced by palpitations as you realize you’re not getting away that easily.
It’s important, however, to re-frame questions.
When you re-frame questions, handling them becomes easier.
Re-frame them as opportunities.
They are opportunities to get your audience to buy-in further to your ideas. Additionally, the more questions you get, the more likely it is that the audience are interested in your topic and want to find out more.
A good thing, right?
4. Interact to boost your confidence and credibility
Just as in social situations, people don’t want to be talked at or lectured to.
People want to be talked with. They want to be interacted with.
When you interact with your audience it has many benefits:
- It engages your audience
- It allows you to get instant feedback (and adjust course if necessary)
- It creates an environment of collaboration and buy-in
- It takes the pressure off you
To interact with them, you first need to be yourself. If you’re reciting a memorized script you’re not going to fare well.
Next, ask your audience questions. This is effective even if your questions are rhetorical.
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5. Your visual communication tells your audience everything
It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are, how much you’ve practiced, or how much authority you have.
If your visual communication is off, your audience won’t be as likely to engage.
Here’s the thing:
Even if your audience wants to give you the benefit of the doubt, and hear everything you have to say, their judgment is thrown off by that first split second when they saw you. In that split second if your visual communication betrayed your nervousness or indicated a lack of confidence it has colored the audience’s perception of you.
Here’s what to do. Maintain an open body position at all times (no folded arms, hands behind back, etc.) and look at the audience as you speak to them.
6. Would I do this in real life?
Here’s a simple evaluation for your presentation.
Would I do this in real life?
If you wouldn’t, then don’t do it in your presentation.
Let’s look at some examples:
- Reading your bullet points word for word (real life example: asking someone on a date with cue cards)
- Looking at your feet while asking your audience a question (real life example: staring at your shoes while asking your boss for a pay raise)
- Staring over your audience’s heads at the back of the room (real life example: avoiding eye contact when telling someone about your weekend)
- Filling your slides with text and an occasional image to “break things up” (real life example: making your friends read every day from the itinerary of your vacation then showing them the best selfie taken each day)
Would you do it in real life? No? Then don’t do it in your presentation.
Communication is communication.
7. End with action
The most forgettable presentations are the ones that are designed to be forgotten.
One key to having a memorable presentation is to design it so that the audience has to think about it afterwards.
In business, we often need our audience’s to do something with the information we are giving them. So, a way to make our presentations memorable is to ask people to do something.
Ask them to take action.
Instead of ending a presentation with “Thank you very much for coming”, end with, “Now what I would like you to do is…”, or, “The next steps are…”
What do you think?
Let’s chat in the comments below.
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