Entrepreneurs are always making presentations – pitching to customers, unveiling new products for staff, making keynote speeches before trade organisations, and even talking to bankers to secure financing. But many entrepreneurs could do with some extra impetus in their presentations – some spice to keep the audience rapt and customers intrigued.
To jazz up your presentations for an audience event, consider the advice of Marjorie Brody, a certified speaking professional and the author of over 18 books, including Speaking Is an Audience-Centred Sport. Brody also runs training programmes and offers executive coaching and keynote presentations. She gives the following tips:
1. Know your audience.
“Understand why you are giving the presentation and to whom,” says Brody. Speak to people who will be attending in advance; get to know their concerns and issues. Then all your content will have specific meaning to the audience.
2. Make it interactive.
To keep everyone alert and interested, look for ways to involve your audience members. “Ask questions; have people shout out answers; poll the audience,” recommends Brody.
3. Tell stories, and use metaphors, analogies and quotes.
Look to your own experiences and others’ stories to help illustrate a point. Search magazines and newspapers for inspiration. “The bottomline,” says Brody, “is to make the presentation more than a data dump.”
4. Make it relevant. Reach out and relate to your audience.
Explains Brody: “People are way too busy to sit and listen to something that has no impact on them.”
5. Be dynamic.
Demonstrate passion for your topic through your voice, gestures, movement and facial expressions, including eye contact.
6. If you use PowerPoint, go easy on the slides.
PowerPoint should be used to illustrate a point – slides should never be the entire presentation. More importantly, a speaker should not read the slides verbatim. “Create the presentation before the PowerPoint slides,”advises Brody, adding that you should look at the presentation and ask yourself, “What points can best be illustrated by PowerPoint?”
“Wherever pictures and graphics can illustrate a point, include them,” says Brody. “But keep in mind that less is more.” Skip flashy graphics if they don’t enhance your message.
7. Wear the appropriate clothing.
You don’t want anything to detract from your presentation. For instance, Brody knows one female presenter who wore red underwear beneath a white skirt. “If you make a bad clothing choice, the audience won’t remember what you were speaking about,” explains Brody. “The old maxim, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’, is very true when it comes to presenters.” Always do a full mirror check before leaving your office or home, and dress professionally.
8. Manage stage fright through repetition.
“Face the fear by just doing it,” encourages Brody. Start by volunteering to introduce other speakers and serve on panels. The goal is not to get over your fear, but to channel the energy.