According to a study by Bain and Co. on time management and its impact on organisations, around 15 percent of an organisation’s collective time goes in meetings and presentations. Top executives spend thousands of hours in strategy and operations brainstorming sessions through the year. We can’t do away with presentations and meetings because the best ideas often come from these sessions, when several brains work together. So if you are going to spend a significant portion of your time attending meetings and presenting insights and ideas to your supervisors, colleagues, and the formidable C-suite, you might as well use the opportunity to stand out and impress.
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Some people love the attention that comes with making presentations. Others get sleepless nights at the thought of it. You could be presenting to the board of four individuals or to an organisation of 400, but anyone taking the center stage in these sessions can either end up a hero or an also-ran. Here are five quick tips that will make sure you own the center stage and come out looking like a hero – every single time.
Tell stories, not statistics
The only things worth giving a presentation about are the ones you will want to have a conversation about long after the last side of your power point deck. Conceptualising the story and talking points outside of the slide is the most critical part of preparing for presentations. It is established that human beings are conditioned to pay attention to stories, so find metaphors in your narrative structure to engage people in the topic at hand. Frame your start and end as the strongest parts of the structure. The most engaging speakers do a brilliant job of introducing the topic and moving on to why they feel strongly about it and why the audience should, too. They don’t throw numbers or staggering statistics; they say what the numbers really mean.
Know your audience
If you work in a technology company and assume that every person in your audience understands technology like you do, you will lose audience in the first few minutes. Do due diligence on who is part of the audience and how much they know about the topic. You and your topic need to come across relatable and using too many jargons and technical details because you assumed everyone gets it will make for a boring, one-way discourse.
Move away from staccato. Perform instead
This does not mean you need to be a comedian or a star. But being dull is not an option either. The way your voice and body move during the presentation will help communicate your passion and energy to your audience. Watch yourself on video, rehearse in front of the mirror, listen to yourself as you practise, and remove unnecessary fillers in your keynote. You want to come across engaging and someone who has made an effort. This comes from a practised performance and the stage presence that comes from it.
Make sure the multimedia you use is really necessary
I don’t remember the last time I saw a presentation that did not depend on PowerPoint slides or videos. But overdoing media also means you lose control over what is being said and heard. A personal conversation takes cues from audience and allows for modifications. Media, on the other hand, is incapable of it and is very one-sided. Also, information is fun only once. So repeating what is on your multimedia is a cardinal sin in presentation. Use media to support your story but the star of your presentation has got to be you!
Don’t forget your key message
A key message is what ties together an hour’s worth of words. Often, the best, most engaging and interactive presentations lose track of the key message. Even in your interactions, remember the end game of your presentation – it is to convince the audience about an idea that is all yours. The best way to communicate your key message is start with telling the audience what you want to say, say it, and end with telling them what you have told them. But it takes the art of conversation to do it effectively. Learn it.
For those who do not like to be the center of attention, presentations can be scary. And often, it can create perceptions that will be difficult to change in the long run. So right from the first presentation of your career to the last one, preparation and rehearsal are key. Presentation can either be a scary monster or an opportunity to showcase your talent and hard work. Work at making it the latter and you are good to go!