Whether you’re a corporate executive or an entrepreneur, a lot of your success depends on your presentation skills. You will be giving reports, presenting concepts, or even just explaining your ideas at the next brainstorming session.
Presentation skills is not a mysterious skill that some ‘charismatic’ people are born with. There are only two secrets to successful presentation: preparation and practice. Here are some simple steps for helping you get ready for your next presentation.
Define your communication goal
What exactly do you want to communicate? Are you selling something and you want your audience to buy it or are you teaching them what you know?
Know your audience.
Learn how to talk their language so that you can elicit the best response from them. For example, the terms you can comfortably use with your fellow department managers will only bore or confuse your staff. Plus, there are certain ‘magic words.’ When you present costs of a project to your finance head you will have to focus on project’s bottom line and profit margin. When you present the exact numbers to your client, you talk about all the ‘bonus services’ or ‘savings’ tucked into his fees. Other questions you should ask:
a. What do they know? Do you need to start with the basics, or can you assume they have a background in the topic or situation?
b. How many people will be there? Your manner of presentation may be different when addressing an intimate audience compared to a huge crowd.
c. What do they need from your presentation? This may be tied to the objective of the presentation.
d. How detailed do you need to be? Not all the info needs to be read or discussed. You may just bring copies of documents that they can refer to at another time.
Know your venue
This will tell you ahead of time what visual aids you can bring and use, how big the audience is going to be, etc.
Write down your points
Write down an outline of your presentation in note or index cards to guide you as you practice. Once you already know what to say, you can do without them and rely on the visual aid instead. (Don’t make the common mistake of writing your entire script on your Powerpoint slide! Go here for secrets to effective Powerpoints.)
Prepare your visuals
Know what visuals you need and make them. Is a slide show appropriate? Is the meeting intimate enough so that manila paper would do? Would you be giving handouts? Double-check the facts and your grammar and spelling.
Rehearse in front of a mirror
Prepare yourself for feedback. Look up answers to possible and frequently asked questions.
Photo from spokenwithauthority.com