We recognize that delivering powerful presentations has become a prime communication tool in business today. We also have personally experienced many presentations that are not done well.
In an earlier blog we examined the importance of creating winning presentations. We identified key factors in the preparation and design of the session such as:
- Defining the purpose and desired outcome
- Determining what actions, the audience should take as a result of the presentation
- Creating objectives that align with the purpose and desired outcome
- Identifying logistical issues that will assist in the development of the presentation
- Determining what goes into the detailed outline in order to structure a solid introduction, body and conclusion.
The preparation and the development is complete. It’s now time to deliver the presentation with excellence.
Delivering Powerful Presentations – Practice
Delivery begins with rehearsal. We often hear the phrase “practice makes perfect”. What that means is only by practicing or repeatedly doing something, can one become proficient at it. Vince Lombardi, one of the most successful coaches in the National Football League, led the Green Bay Packard’s to five Championships in seven years. Lombardi adapted that quote by saying “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect”. The take-away…. if we can’t perfect our presentation during practice or rehearsal…. then the likelihood of it also going smoothly during the real presentation is highly unlikely.
Delivering Powerful Presentations – The Opening (Introduction)
It has often been said that the first three minutes of a presentation sets the stage for what’s to come. Typically, the audience’s attention is naturally high but this is also the time that they are sizing up the presenter. Does the presenter seem organized? Prepared? Nervous? Confident? Credible?
The presenter needs to grab the audiences’ attention and get their buy-in immediately with a strong WIIFM statement. During the opening, the presenter must get the audience focused on the topic. They need to begin to build rapport with positive facial animation and good eye contact. They need to use appropriate verbal and non-verbal gestures supported with positive body language. And, as we identified in the preparation and development phase of the presentation, the opening is followed by the other components of an effective introduction:
- Who the presenter is, their experience with the topic, and their company information (if appropriate).
- The purpose and desired outcome.
- A WIIFM or benefit statement.
- Objectives of the presentation.
- An outline of the presentation topics (agenda).
If the presenter wants to destroy the opening, they will:
- Begin with some form of apology
- Ask the audience to” hang-in” while they cover this “boring” topic/information.
- Use an unrelated or inappropriate anecdote
- Introduce the topic in a slow-moving, long-winded manner
- Spend time attempting to rectify equipment failure
Many negative factors that can get a presentation off the rails from the opening, could gave been minimized or eliminated altogether with some advanced planning. Remember a great theme and focus for successful presentations is to Control the Controllable and Manage the Uncontrollable.
Delivering Powerful Presentations – The Middle (Body)
Since the opening gave the audience a good reason to listen, the rest of the presentation must follow through on that promise. This is where the presenter communicates the relevant content of the presentation as detailed in the preparation phase. The presenter however is not just delivering content, they are doing it in a manner that keeps the audience engaged, motivated, and involved. Engaging and interacting with the audience promotes retention, which in turn aids with influence……an important desired outcome of most presentations.
Throughout the presentation, the presenter’s professional credibility should also continue to be solidified.
Professional Credibility = Personal Credibility (experience) + Social Credibility (verbal/non-verbal) + Content Credibility (subject matter expertise) + Process Credibility (presentation skills).
When delivering an effective presentation, the presenter should adhere to the following Verbal Best Practices:
- Show an interest in the audience
- Use a conversational, friendly, natural and helpful tone
- Clarify and confirm questions from the audience and respond appropriately
- Demonstrate confidence by being enthusiastic and at ease
- Use appropriate language (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation)
- Vary pace using suitable pauses
- Speak passionately with appropriate volume, inflection, pitch, emphasis, and without “filler” words such as “like”, “hmm”, “basically”
- Know what you are going to say before you say it.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for a complete list of both verbal and non-verbal best practices.
Delivering Powerful Presentations – Presentation Endings (Conclusion)
The last thing the presenter says,may be the most remembered, so ensure the closing is well planned and practiced. Many of the same techniques considered in the opening are appropriate for closings as well: a short story, quotation, statistic or bold statement. The closing should be motivational, inspirational, challenging and thoughtful.
Remind the audience about the objectives established in the introduction. End with a call to action related to those objectives. Summarize the main points to reinforce the message. The points can also be restated in a slightly different manner. This technique can also make an impact with an audience member who perhaps “didn’t get it” earlier in the presentation.
Remember the last words lingers. If the presenter closes with, “Are there any questions?” the end will fizzle out. Instead, say. “Before I close, are there any questions?” Answer them. Then close with impact.
For additional effective presentation techniques such as using visuals effectively; stage blocking; active listening; asking and handling audience questions; coping with nervousness and handling difficult situations, please contact Geoff Nolan at 1-800-FKA-5585. Review the Presentation Skills program or call us to discuss how FKA can customize a Presentation Skills Program for you.