If you are a professional working in business today then regardless of your industry, age or position you will be called on regularly to present your ideas to others. If it hasn’t begun yet then be patient, it will soon.
Whether it’s a team meeting, monthly update, a new initiative or project briefing there will be moments when everything you say and the way you say it matters. It is precisely that significance which leaves many professionals dreading the thought of presenting to colleagues and clients.
Instead of letting the prospect of sharing your thoughts and ideas with others invoke such anxiety consider the opportunity and value it offers you.
Many people would agree that far too many business presentations are too long and extremely tedious. With such a perspective being so prevalent in organisations today there is a huge opportunity to challenge the status quo and to stand out from the crowd.
The ability to connect emotionally as well as intellectually with others at work is arguably the most important skill in the world today. Imagine how quickly and how far you could climb the corporate ladder if you presented your ideas with confidence, creativity and impact. Set aside any personal angst you may have about presenting and public speaking and follow these 7 strategies to take your career to the next level.
1. Lose the ‘crystal ball’
As former executive of some of the UK’s most successful brands I was called on to present to colleagues and clients a great deal. After many years of sleepless nights trying to second guess what my audience actually wanted from me and how much they already knew I had an epiphany.
I started to ask them.
I realised that I could craft and deliver what I considered to be the most relevant, powerful and even entertaining presentation but if it wasn’t what my audience wanted or needed I was wasting my time and theirs.
2. Build it like a Tipi
One of the many reasons that so many business presentations aren’t as engaging as they should be is because they lack focus and structure.
The aboriginal tipi is an amazing feat of indigenous engineering. It is constructed using a number of poles but its core strength emanates from the 3 largest poles which provide the support structure.
I often consider a great presentation akin to a well-constructed tipi which has been built using many poles. The 3 largest and most important poles of presenting will determine the impact and memorability of your presentation.
- What do you want your audience to think?
- How do you want your audience to feel?
- What do you want your audience to do?
3. Think like a tweet
Have you ever had someone strongly recommend a book for you to read and when you ask them what it’s about they can’t really explain it. Business presentations can be a little like that as the speaker talks you through 30 slides without clarity of their message.
We live in a world of social media and a great practice to get into is clarifying and writing your key message down in less than 140 characters. That won’t be the way you present it of course but it will ensure that everything you say focuses around that core message.
4. Craft a conversation
Another reason many business presentations are considered tedious is because they are crafted and delivered as lectures. In other words the audience is spoken at for the full 20 minutes.
Craft a conversation instead.
Ask them questions, get them involved and seek their opinion don’t just talk at them.
5. Be different
If the information, insights or ideas you have can be communicated easily in an email then respect your audience’s time and send them one. If however, presenting to them face to face will help you to bring your message to life and really connect with them then make it different.
- Don’t use bullet points – Use powerful images
- Make it personal to them
- Tell them something they don’t know
- Tell them stories
- Use video’s, props or get them doing something
- Ask thought provoking questions
By practicing I don’t mean memorise a script. There are 3 central elements to work on when practising:
- Content – Get to know your message, supporting points and content inside out.
- Verbal – Stretch and challenge your voice as much as you possibly can. Try out a few vocal exercises on the internet. Read a few passages from your favourite book in as many different ways as you can. Read with, passion, excitement, as though you were angry, etc. Change your pace, volume, intonation and practice pausing.
- Move – Practice the way you move. Get some feedback on your eye contact, facial expressions, hand gestures and the way you use the space you have.
7. Have some fun
Unless you are reading a eulogy or making people redundant business presentations don’t have to be deadly serious all of the time. You can deliver a really important and serious message whilst still lightening up a little, adding a touch of humour and making sure that both you and your audience enjoy it.
About the Author
Maurice De Castro is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s most successful brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organisation lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create a business helping leaders to do exactly that. Learn more at https://mindfulpresenter.com/