It happened again…I was recently attending a public event with speakers giving a short presentation on their startup business ideas. More than half, probably 80%, had disappointing presentation skills. I see this over and over again in the business community and would like to impress upon the importance of presentation skills. If people don’t like your presentation, they won’t like your business idea. Even if your not trying to sell your startup idea in front of a group, however just sharing an idea you have in front of a few colleagues at work, you want to make an impression. These five tips can help.
1. Don’t start off with a negative. Don’t begin your presentation by telling the audience how nervous you are or how bad you are at giving presentations. Audiences want you to succeed and will often give you the benefit of the doubt. They all know how hard it is to stand in front of people and talk and are just happy it is you doing it and not them.
2. Remember you are just having a conversation. Yes, the conversation is often one sided and your standing while everyone else is sitting, however treat it as just having a conversation. Look at people in your audience and talk directly to them. Often you will know some or all of your audience. Initially, look at the people you know, until you become more comfortable and can direct your attention throughout the audience. Use peoples names, ask if they have questions. Just remember, we have many conversations every single day.
3. Don’t turn your back to you audience. The audience wants to look at who they are listening to. Just like in a conversation, you wouldn’t turn your back to the person you were talking to. The back turn usually occurs when the speaker turns to read from the screen. Use the laptop where your presentation originates as a monitor or notes to continue to face forward towards your audience. Even if you have to lookdown and read a few things, you are still facing forward.
4. Memorize most of the presentation. If this is important to you, you should be able to spend the time to know your subject. I use the laptop/notes as a memory trigger, even for a long presentation. I will usually only look once quickly and then continue to look at the audience while I explain the slide up on the screen.
5. Tell a story. Statistics show that people remember stories, they don’t remember words. Provide examples from your life to explain what you are telling them. Your audience will remember how your new idea helped someone rather than an explanation of how it works.
Credit: Author, Bill Riegler