Sooner or later, most company leaders find themselves having to give a presentation, whether to prospective customers, industry peers or employees. If sales or educational roles aren’t within your normal range of responsibilities, this can be a daunting proposition. Here are 5 tips for giving a presentation that connects with your audience.
It is essential to sell yourself before you sell your message, according to Dananjaya Hettiarachchi, Toastmasters International Champion for 2014. The more authentic you are, the more your listeners will trust what you say. Boost your confidence by remembering these two things: you know this stuff, or you wouldn’t be the one doing the presenting; and keep your language conversational, rather than like an actor reading a script.
Have a strong message.
Pick one clear thought that you want to communicate, and stick to that story line throughout the presentation, says bestselling public speaking author Carmine Gallo. Ideally, you will be teaching your audience something they didn’t know — about your product, your brand, or the industry in general.
Use the 10-20-30 rule.
PowerPoint guru Guy Kawasaki’s rule is 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 point font. Very few people in your audience will have the attention span to stick with a presentation that runs longer than this. The reason for the 30 point font? It’s to keep the text on your slides to a minimum. If your listeners are reading instead of listening, you’ve lost them.
Keep everyone’s attention on you, not their smartphones, by moving around, throwing in a joke every once in a while and making eye contact with individuals in the audience. Enthusiasm will be interpreted as sincerity. James White of Signalnoise.com is a master of this technique, and gets standing ovations at the end of his talks.
Don’t close with a formal Q & A.
How many times have you been in the audience when this was thrown at you? And how many of those times did anyone actually raise their hand? Very few, we bet. People are afraid to get up and ask a question in public, so ending your presentation this way can be a real downer. Instead, tell them that you’ll be staying afterwards for informal conversation if they have any questions.
There’s one thing that all these speaking pros agree on: As with every other skill, becoming an outstanding speaker takes practice. With these 5 tips, you will be well on the way to a successful presentation.