June 25th, 2015
For many people, there are few things more terrifying than delivering a presentation. But unfortunately, presentations are an important part of business and often unavoidable. Whether it is for a job interview or in the attempt to secure a new client or investor, there are a number of common principles to remember as the basis of producing and communicating an effective presentation.
Rather than jumping straight into producing the presentation, decide on the main focal points and develop a clearly structured slide-by-slide plan of how each point will be covered. Organising your initial thoughts will help to make the presentation easy to follow and understand for your audience. No initial consideration for the arrangement of your information may result in a disorientated presentation. Generally, the basic structure of a presentation should consist of an introduction, the main content and a conclusion.
Make sure that all your facts and figures are accurate and relevant to the messages you're communicating and to your audience. Although statistics are valuable for strengthening your message, don't overcomplicate things as some people within your audience may not be able to easily comprehend complex data. It's best not to include any information that you're not 100% sure to be true. Your presentation will be much more convincing if you are confident in the content. Also make sure you proof-read the presentation at least once after completion to ensure that the content flows well and any mistakes are corrected.
It's important to consider the characteristics of your audience and adapt how you communicate the presentation accordingly. For example, in an informal team briefing it is more acceptable to use humour to keep people amused, whereas a formal setting and professional tone of voice is usually maintained whilst presenting to a board of directors or investors.
As long as it is directly related and provides significant value to the purpose of the presentation, a visual or audio aid such as an infographic or video clip can be incorporated to break up a presentation, maintain interest and encourage engagement. However the opposite impact may be had if the aid is clearly irrelevant, so do not use them just for the sake of diversity in your presentation.
Staring down to read from note cards throughout a presentation will give the impression that you aren't knowledgeable about the topic at hand. Eye-contact is crucial for keeping your audience engaged. To be able to speak without the assistance of notes, plenty of practice is needed. Thoroughly learn the order of the slides and what you need cover vocally for each. Already knowing exactly what is coming on the next slide will stop you from looking confused or prematurely covering content, leaving you with nothing left to say for other slides. The more practiced you are the more comfortable you should feel, easing those pesky nerves.