A presentation is a specific kind of speech. Its purpose is to give a selected audience important information about a product, service or organization, with the help of printed handouts or visual aids. In designing a presentation, the presenter must be clear about its purpose, the audience, and the tone because they determine the presentation’s goal.
Presentation’s purpose and audience
Every presentation has a specific purpose. The purpose could be to make influential partners enthusiastic about a new product range. It could be to deliver financial information to major shareholders. It could be to explain a new product’s technical features to non-technical staff. In nearly every case its purpose is to generate support for a product, service, or idea.
It is much easier to decide on the presentation’s tone, and content once the purpose and audience profile have been determined. The tone is vital because it informs the presentation’s content. If the tone is to be very serious, the speech and visual aids will need to reflect that. If the tone is to be a little lighter, then the speech and visual aids might be sprinkled with humor.
Only when those three presentation fundamentals are clear should the presenter start working on the content details.
Knowing the rules is vital to delivering powerful presentations, and powerful presentations have a significant impact on the growth of a business. Here are the ten rules:
Accept that it will be hard work.
Preparing a great presentation takes time and effort. Allocate ample time and be willing to do whatever it takes.
Decide on a solid main theme.
Make sure your presentation has an interesting theme and a strong central message. If it does not, postpone or cancel the presentation because it will bore the audience, achieve nothing, and, like bad delivery, do more harm than good.
Don’t keep the audience in suspense.
Let the audience know within the first minute what the presentation is about and why it will interest them. It is best to do this using just one or two powerful short statements. These are important hooks that will grab and hold their interest.
Cramming the presentation with information is a sure way to bore the audience. Instead, give clear, broad outlines of each important point. If the subject is especially complicated, distribute detailed, explanatory, documentation, which the audience can study later.
Be wary of visuals.
Use only slides or videos that are short, focused and sure to enhance the presentation. Otherwise, they are a damaging distraction that undermines the message. Keep the content of slides and their design simple, and do not read out what’s written on them.
Be yourself, but leave your ego outside.
Never boast about yourself or your company. Speak naturally in your normal conversational voice, and avoid pretentious or condescending language. Just tell the audience about the problem you are helping them solve. That is what they want to hear.
Do not sway or rock on your feet, or walk about unless moving comes naturally to you, or is a necessary part of the presentation. Pointless movement is distracting for the audience and a sure sign of your nervousness.
Make eye contact as you speak.
Pick a few people spread out in the audience and make eye contact with them during the presentation. Surprisingly, this helps build an intimate relationship with everyone in the audience.
Practice, practice, practice!
Do not read from notes. It kills spontaneity and breaks the intimate connection with the audience. They will suspect that you are relaying somebody else’s message. So, learn the speech by heart. That does not mean you have to deliver it verbatim or like a recitation, but it does mean that at the live presentation, you will be much less worried about forgetting parts of it, and you will be able to concentrate on engaging the audience with a message.
Close by recapping on a positive note.
End your presentation by reminding the audience what it was about. This may sound like unnecessary repetition, but it is important. It is a brief summary that drives home the essence of the presentation. Since it is the last thing they will hear, deliver it in an upbeat manner. That way, your message will leave a positive and lasting impression.
Devising, developing, and delivering a great presentation is a complex task that demands meticulous planning even for an experienced presenter. Though they may not know it, most people can do it well if they follow these rules.