Delivering presentations internally, to clients, or even at industry conferences is something that can be a real boost to your professional reputation, but only if you get it right. Nothing makes you look more like an amateur than an awkward presentation filled with mistakes and missed cues.
So how do you go about preparing and delivering a killer presentation? I have one word for you my friends — preparation.
Now I will admit that there are some people out there who can rock up on game day having put zero thought or effort into their presentation and still deliver something worth listening to, but those people are few and far between. For the rest of us, being prepared is the key to success.
Here are my top 6 presentation tips to help you rock it.
1. Know What You Are Trying to Do
Let’s face it, nobody wakes up and says “I feel like doing a presentation today”. Usually, the goal is to either educate or convince and you need to know which one you are working towards.
Most of my presentations at work are staff training so my goal is to educate, but you might be trying to convince a client to sign on with your company or to get your boss to choose your proposal over someone else’s.
Knowing what you are trying to accomplish serves two purposes. FIrstly, it allows you to tailor your presentation towards that goal, and secondly, it allows you to know whether you have succeeded in your goal or not.
2. To Powerpoint or Not to Powerpoint?
People are straight up addicted to Powerpoint and I get it – you can spend hours finding just the right image for a slide or tweaking the effects so until they are just the way you want them, but this is all procrastination at its finest.
Unless you have specific visuals like graphs or tables which you need to present, I recommend you leave the Powerpoint presentation at home. If you decide that you can’t live without your safety blanket, you can find our tips for making them more effective here.
3. Understand the Limitations
How long are you expected to speak for? Are you going to be using a microphone? Will you be on a stage above the audience or on the floor at their level?
These are just some of the things you need to know and prepare for. Make sure your presentation isn’t an hour long if you only have 10 minutes. If you’ll be using a microphone but you’ve never used one before, ask if you can come on early to practice.
Asking a few questions now can help you avoid unpleasant surprises on the day.
4. Put Pen to Paper
Once you know what you are doing, it’s time to write your presentation.
Sounds simple, probably won’t be. Try to finish in enough time that you can practice and make any amendments. Nothing kills preparation more than last minute changes you haven’t had time to practice.
This doesn’t mean that you have to deliver exactly what you write, but it is important that you have a clear idea of your main points built into an outline you can follow.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
I know it’s boring, but I don’t care. Practice will make you better, which is what all these presentation tips are about.
If you can, record yourself when you practice. I pick up on all sorts of things that I would otherwise miss by doing this. I’ve caught myself leaning on the lectern constantly, standing in one spot all the time (not recommended), hiding behind my hands, and a whole host of other body language related sins.
Even better than recording is getting feedback from someone else. Again, this is uncomfortable but it is better a little discomfort now than looking like a fool in front of an audience.
A lot of Toastmasters use their club meetings to practice big speeches and presentations. You get to practice in front of a live audience and you get plenty of helpful feedback.
6. Take Care of Yourself
You should always take care of yourself, but in the few days leading up to your presentation try and get plenty of sleep, eat well, and stay hydrated so that you will be alert and well-rested on the big day.
Well, what are you waiting for? You should be preparing your presentation, not reading presentation tips on the internet! Get busy 🙂
Nikki Miller is the Reef City Cairns Toastmasters club Vice-President. She has been an active member of Toastmasters since 2018. During her time at Toastmasters she has completed two speaking paths in the Innovative Planning speaking series.