Updated: Apr 5
*YAWN* I don't even have to set the mood, my guess is that you have already fallen into deep sleep by seeing "presentation" in the title. But hold on!
This indispensable part of business life can be much more than something that puts you to rest for at least half an hour. Read on for tips on how to make your presentation enjoyable and memorable!
So what are the main reasons why presentations are usually extremely boring, tiring, useless, and tedious? Actually, there can be several, such as they are:
bad body language
bad voice and intonation
monotonous and boring
How to avoid these most common mistakes?
What should precede all presentations at work in theory is checking whether they are actually necessary! But if your boss or you think that there's absolutely no other way to transfer information, then the next important step is to plan what to include.
If you watch TED talks on a regular basis, you'll get the general impression that your maximum attention span for a presentation is around 15-20 minutes. After that time, your attention lapses and whatever is said is likely to be forgotten. So try to plan for that amount of time.
A rule of thumb is to have one slide per minute, which means you should have 20 slides at most.
A shorter length also means that you have to be economical with the amount of information you share. Which is actually good news! You don't want to keep talking forever - keep your message concise and brief, and save your audience from unnecessary details and pointless filler sentences.
Plan what you want to say
Don't improvise and don't think that reading the slides or your notes will be enough. The former is not only unprofessional but also disrespectful, while the latter results in having to look at bored colleagues.
Plan a good and catchy introduction, which outlines the most important points that will be addressed; a useful body, in which you clearly list your arguments and exemplify why you think what you think; and finally, a brief conclusion, which wraps up what has been said and leaves the audience with the bare minimum - the gist of the presentation.
Getting your audience's attention
A common issue with business presentations is that it's considered a necessary nuisance for everybody, which means that no effort is really put in into saying something captivating. But just think about it! What if you, the presenter could actually raise the others' attention and they would actually listen and you could all leave the meeting room either more or as energised as you entered, but definitely not less?
For this to happen, you obviously need your boss's understanding that not every topic needs a presentation (or a meeting for that matter), so that only those issues should remain on the palette that are worth talking about. If this can't be done, then it's your turn to spice up your style.
Know your audience
This means that you have to convince them and make them believe that they are there for a reason, and that is listening to YOU. Find a way or ways to get their interest - show them the figures they need, explain why they should invest in the project you promote, and most importantly
answer their questions before they even have the chance to ask them.
If you're one step ahead of them and know what might be going on in their minds, you have a bigger chance of staying memorable.
Your style is YOU
The final pillar of a good presentation is your style, which is basically YOU yourself. Some people are born charismatic, talkative and extroverted, while others struggle standing in front of more than two people; they lose their voice, and can't look anywhere but on the floor or on the ceiling. Now this is a hard nut. Good presenting styles are not built in a day, so firstly you have to build your confidence in general to subsequently improve your presentation style.
I recommend practicing speaking in your friends circle at first. Tell them a story, explain them how something works, tell them about a project you're working on. Then try to move on to bigger audiences and strangers. Attend a skills course, for example (such as this one), or go to free public speaking events (e.g., Toastmasters). Mind you, public speaking is not the same as professional business presentations, but having the chance to practice speaking in front of many people will definitely have a positive effect on your office performance.
Prepare for the worst
And one more thing to mention on top of all this: always prepare for the worst. What if your files are corrupted or lost? What if nobody can hear you? What if there's no internet? What if you forget what you wanted to say? What if the room's too small?
Always check everything in advance, such as the room, the tech facilities or your files. Make extra copies in the cloud, print your slides and print handouts as well, bring a mobile hotspot and a bluetooth speaker, and write down your notes. The inevitable will always happen but minimise its chances of ruining your presentation.
And that's how you become a successful, memorable and enviable presenter!
Check out these phrases as well that might come in handy during your speeches:
Hi, my name is Jane McGregor and I work for the Meetings Department. My talk/presentation today is called "Effective Meetings 101." There are three main points I'd like to look at. First, ..., then ..., and finally .... If you have any questions, I'll be happy/glad to answer at the end.
So, let's get started. / To begin with... / First of all...
As you can see here... / Now if you pay attention to this chart... / If you look here...
Time is moving on, so let's turn to... / Time seems to be flying, so I'll move on to...
But I'm digressing / But this is a different story, let's turn back to...
I think that covers everything on..., so...
And this brings my presentation to a close. Thank you everybody for coming, if you have any questions, this is the time to ask.
That's a very good question, indeed, thank you, so what I can say is... / That's not really my field, to be honest. / I'll have to look into that for you, I'll get back to you by email. / Well, I think that goes beyond the point/topic of today's presentation.
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