3 Essentials to Developing Powerful Presentations – Part 2

Powerful presentations are vital to building your credibility when communicating with colleagues, senior leaders, board members, clients, or staff. In Part 1 of this article, I focused on the preparation phase, and action steps that need to be taken in advance to ensure success. The next two phases include the presentation itself, and feedback to refine your skills following the presentation.

Presentation (Your Delivery during the Meeting)

It’s OK to be nervous. However, the best way to overcome nervousness is to be prepared and know your topic better than anyone else. Eventually the nerves will subside.

Speak clearly and with confidence. Pace yourself, so as not to speak too fast or too slow – because both drive audiences crazy. If you have difficulty enunciating certain words, do not use them. Also, be careful not to speak in a monotone manner; it will put people to sleep.

Be mindful of your body language. A genuine smile is a great way to warm a group up, so be very conscientious of your facial expressions throughout your presentation. Your body language should be relaxed to convey confidence, and throughout your presentation be sure to scan the room with positive eye contact and a periodic smile. If your eyes focus solely on your presentation notes or the PowerPoint slides on the projection screen throughout the entire presentation you will lose the audience, and you will not be able to assess whether they are embracing your message or are board stiff. Also be extremely mindful of your posture and hand gestures. Remember, not only is the audience listening to you – but they are also looking at you.

Make your presentation memorable. Start with a strong opening, typically interesting facts and figures are a good way to get the audience stirred, or with a little taste of humor. Next, make sure you have an impactful middle — this is where your knowledge and expertise of the subject matter will make all of the difference. Don’t lose the audience with too many big words, but at the same time don’t talk down to the audience. There is a fine line between a presenting your information with confidence and finesse, and totally missing an opportunity to “wow” your audience. Prior to closing your presentation, allow a few minutes to take a few questions. And, if asked a question that you cannot answer, don’t fake it. Respond appropriately indicating that you will find out and get back with them a.s.a.p. Most important, end with a memorable closing, usually a great supporting quote helps round off your presentation.

Walk the room. When presenting to small groups, using the opportunity to walk around the room is extremely effective. Periodically gaze across the entire room, using positive eye contact and smiling as often as possible to convey a sense of confidence. Of course, walking the ballroom is not effective if you are presenting to a large group in the 100′s because then everyone cannot see you. In these instances, stay on the stage or at the front of the room, periodically pacing from one side to the other to keep everyone’s attention. When presenting to large groups, I always prefer and request a wireless microphone for this very reason.

Be mindful of the time. If there is a clock in the room, periodically glance at it to ensure you stay within your allotted timeframe. I have been in meetings where the speaker went over their allocated time and participants started leaving. My suggestion, respect people’s time. That’s why handouts are so helpful. If you are running out of time, you can always advise participants to review the handouts later for more details.

Feedback for Refinement (After the Meeting)

Solicit audience feedback. The manner in which you solicit feedback depends on the audience you are presenting to. When I’m facilitating a training workshop, I always handout participant feedback forms. When I am presenting to small groups, I usually speak with the meeting planner afterwards to get their feedback on the effectiveness of my presentation and suggestions for improvement.

Use feedback to improve your skills. It’s tough accepting constructive criticism and feedback when you have worked so hard preparing for a presentation or to facilitate a training workshop. However, you must take it all in stride and use what you learn to improve your presentation style. If you continue to hear the same criticism over-and-over again (you use your hands to much, you pace too much, you let the audience take control too much, you didn’t use eye contact with the audience, etc.) then it is a chronic blind-spot that you need to work on eliminating. It’s OK to be sensitive, but use this type of feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow over time. When you begin to hear the same criticisms less over time, you’ll know that you have mastered them.

In closing, my list of tips for a powerful presentation is not all inclusive. However, hopefully it has gotten your creative juices going and in the future you will consider some of these tips to improve your presentation skills. There hundred of other tips to help you improve. I give hundreds of presentations each year, but I still review books and other self-help resources to refine my skills. Believe me, your first, second, or maybe even fiftieth presentation will not be perfect – but the more you do over time the more confident you will become.

6 Quick Tips For Your Business Presentations

Practices that help people design presentations and the practices that help them deliver successfully do not overlap much. A systematic approach helps busy executives discover how to win results faster.

Thomas Sechehaye has determined two distinct sets of behaviors and practices necessary for effective design and delivery.

Practices associated with successful design only were:
• Participate in audience research
• Look for new information about design
• Learn story structures
• Design for visual impact
• Plan specific calls to action
• Structure dramatic flow
• Follow brand or company guidelines
• Adapt to diverse media

Practices associated with successful delivery only were:
• Adapt to specific audience insights
• Refine vocal quality and tone
• Practice effective eye contact
• Use authentic personal strengths
• Build high impact body language skills
• Share personal experiences with anecdotes
• Get 1:1 coaching and feedback
• Rehearse for face-to-face and virtual delivery

As the two stages demand and require different practices, then executive and sales presentation training needs to guide people about key strategies for each phase. While many organizations target presentation skills training, these two phases are often merged. The skills are rarely broken out as discretely different.

Some people are extremely anxious about delivery skills. All they can think about is previous experiences of feeling anxious, losing their voice, or feeling queasy. Successful delivery skills help professionals reinvent the experience of presenting.

But many of the challenges of delivery can be solved with careful attention to design.”

Professionals who want dramatic improvement in presentation results should emphasize 6 key best practices, listed here.

Key Practice 1. Identify Design Process
Define how presentations are built from the ground up. Find out if every individual or team is doing this differently, or following a proven and systematic design process.

Key Practice 2. Share Best Practices
Once you have determined the best practices for your business, share them. Remove inter-departmental barriers by sharing best practices. This may be done informally amongst peers; or more formally in design debriefs.

Key Practice 3. Storyboard Presentations
You would never build a house by just grabbing a 2 x 4 lying on the ground. Yet many business presentations are built in such a haphazard manner. Use a storyboard to plan powerful presentations from start to finish. This is critical to increase productivity-and streamline processes across your business.

Key Practice 4. Learn Skills For Design & Delivery
Begin with the end in mind. Learn the skills for design and delivery success. Approach each area as a unique skill set. Solid design sets the foundation for high-impact delivery. Therefore, learning design skills first is a smart approach.

Key Practice 5. Provide Training Options For Individuals
Different people learn in different ways. Some people prefer the freedom of online learning. Others learn best in a classroom environment, with shoulder-to-shoulder instruction.

In an ideal environment, provide options that encourage individual freedom of choice. If travel budgets are tight, provide online training that offers freedom in instructional design. This recreates a friendly, open environment for learning new skills.

Key Practice 6. Strengthen Skills With Coaching
One on one coaching is one of the best ways to create rapid improvement. With new advances in virtual coaching, this is now much more available and affordable than in the past.

With a step-by-step approach to the unique skills of presentation design and delivery, busy professionals can make rapid progress and not leave up to chance.

Nervous? You Are Not Alone Presentation Tips From The Pros

Have you ever been asked to do a presentation for a large group of people you have never met?

Does this make you nervous? Well, you are not alone. Practically everybody, from executives to entry-level employees has the butterflies in their stomach over it. Here are some tips on making a presentation from the members of the National speakers Association.

Accept the fear and make it work for you. Most people cannot see your nervousness, so don’t even mention that you are. Use this adrenaline rush of nervous energy by turning it into lots of enthusiasm in your delivery.

Arrive early to your speech location. Do this so that you can check out the microphone, overhead projector or any other technical equipment you will be using. Get familiar with the room. This will put you more at ease before you begin your speech.

Do some deep breathing exercises – most professional speakers do this before their presentations. Shake your hands, do some movement exercise . . .just loosen up.

Speak on what you are passionate about and others need to hear. A passion for your subject will help to dissipate your nerves. “The audience will sense your passion and focus on your message – not your mistakes.

Speak, speak, speak. Speak often. Kill those nerves with lots of speaking experiences. The more you speak the more comfortable you will be with your audiences. It’s like going for the “gold.” Practice, practice, practice!

Know your topic and material. When you really know your stuff, your nerves will lessen. Do not memorize your speech. If you forget a portion, then you increase your stage fright. Just be familiar with your material and have a conversation with your audience.

Mingle with the audience before your speech. It’s helpful to meet and greet people as they come into the room. Then you will have made some new “friends” and be more comfortable with the people in the room.

Know your audience. Do your homework which includes research on the organization hosting your speech. Understand the challenges your audience faces and hit their hot buttons. You don’t want to make remarks that are not sensitive to your particular audience.

Focus on your audience. It is not about you. It is about them. Remember, you are the expert on your topic and have valuable material to share. Be there to help them understand your message and impact their lives in some way.

Prepare and rehearse. The more you practice, the better you will do. Practice for friends, in front of your mirror, for your colleagues. Talk your speech out loud while taking a walk. Remember to use your hand gestures and use facial expressions while you rehearse.