The best presentations at work are those that inspire productivity among your team. Here are some tips for preparing for a presentation.
These come from a guest post by our own Robby Slaughter. The original article is available in full on the New Focus HR blog:
Tell a Story (But Don’t Be the Hero) – Your job is to craft a narrative, which means you need a beginning, middle and an end. Use analogies, humor and suspense. Set up problems and show solutions. And throughout, remember that you are the mentor, not the hero. Help the audience to identify with others, not you.
Eye Contact and Pacing – You must look at your audience, and not just at one person. In the same way, you must give your audience time to digest ideas. Pause. Take breaks. Ask people to turn to each other to discuss what you just covered. Anything to create rhythm.
Never Read Aloud – If you place words on a slide or in a handout, never read them aloud yourself. There are few experiences more frustrating for an audience member than a narrator droning a bunch of words that the audience can read for themselves. The only exception to this rule is quotations—but even that works better if you ask someone in the group to say it for you.
Commit to Preparation – This might seem obvious, but so many lectures fall flat because the presenter didn’t spend enough time getting ready. Allocate at least ten times as much space on your calendar to get ready as you do in the actual speech. That means an hour with your audience requires at least ten hours of preparation.
Deliver Action Items – People who experience a presentation deserve a gift. The best present you can offer is not a free lunch or a t-shirt, but clear next steps. This may require handouts or crisp phrases, but you want to ensure that people have something they can take back and put into action.
Employees who follow these best practices will find that their presentations are not only be entertaining—but also be productive. They will inspire and engage audiences. Their words and images will help them make the right choice and pursue the next step.
Making a good presentation isn’t easy. You can’t simply watch a TED talk and feel like you’re ready to address a crowd. You need to know who your audience is and how to best serve their needs. You need to be knowledgeable about the topic so that it doesn’t seem like an amateur presenting to experts. You need to make the presentation different than the ones that people have seen a million times before.
But basically, all of that stuff comes down to point #4 that Robby made. Commit to Preparation. NBA legend Steve Nash had a great quote about the topic:
You have to rely on your preparation. You got to really be passionate and try to prepare more than anyone else, and put yourself in a position to succeed, and when the moment comes you got to enjoy, relax, breathe and rely on your preparation so that you can perform and not be anxious or filled with doubt.
While Nash’s quote is about basketball, it can apply to all aspects of life, including presentations. When you’re fully prepared about something you’re passionate about, then there’s really not a whole lot more you can do to set yourself up for success.