Presentation panic?

Presentation - man at board

Simon Morton, of Eyeful Presentations ( shares his top ten tips on writing the ultimate presentation.

First things first, writing a presentation is not an easy task. Writing a presentation takes a lot of time and effort. Writing a presentation can be both stressful and frustrating. And what do you get at the end?

Well the benefits can be pretty impressive: a new sale, a new client, a happy team and impressed investors (not to mention a sense of pride in a job well done). On the flip side, get it wrong and you’re facing lost clients, unhappy and confused staff, wary investors…. You get the picture (oh yes, there’ll be a shortage of pride as well). Here are 10 tips to ensure that your presentation is a success:

No. 1 – The key message

The key message is ultimately the one thing that your audience must understand. A good example here is Volvo. The key message with any Volvo advert is that the car is safe – everyone knows and understands this. Whilst this isn’t a presentation it clearly highlights how a key message underpins your presentation. Before you do anything, identify and then focus on your key message.

No. 2 – Write the presentation…with a pen

In this technological fuelled day and age the first thing that most people do when writing a presentation is open PowerPoint. Wrong! The best thing to do is write the presentation in full using a pen and some paper…and leave your PC turned off.

No. 3 – Beginning, middle and end

Like any good story, yours must also have a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning lets you set your stall out and capture your audience’s attention. The middle gets across “the meat” of your presentation; demonstrating exactly why to buy this product, get excited about a product launch or whatever it is that you are delivering.

And the end is just about the most important of the three. The reason for this is as humans we often don’t retain a lot of information however what we do remember tends to be the last thing you tell us. Think about your ending and make sure it’s worth remembering.

No. 4 – Visual impact

Imagine a presentation with no pictures, just words; very dull indeed (I know because I’ve seen plenty!)

Any good presentation makes the most of visual imagery; yours must do so too. Make sure that you use relevant images that re-enforce your message and help your audience to understand your key message.

No. 5 – Know your topic

Not knowing your topic is a sure fire way of setting up a bad presentation. If you have to give a presentation about a topic that is not your area of expertise then it’s time to put in the hours. You must be comfortable with the subject matter before you can present it to others.

No. 6 – Know your audience

It’s common sense – if you’re presenting to a company director you wouldn’t go into minute detail, similarly if you’re presenting to an IT team you’re unlikely to go for the high level, big picture pitch.

Each audience you present to will be different. As such, tailor your presentation to each one to be most effective.

No. 7 – The storyboard technique

Whilst sounding a bit “Hollywood”, this is an excellent way of bridging the gap between your ideas and a presentation. By writing out the presentation as a storyboard you’ll see how the message flows, allowing you to ensure that your “story” is being told effectively.

No. 8 – The PowerPoint isn’t the presentation

Never, ever just read the words from each slide. A PowerPoint is only there to help you to deliver your message – you’re the vital element in the whole equation.

No. 9 – Less is more

One of the biggest curses inflicted upon unwitting PowerPoint audiences is the text heavy slide, more often than not accompanied by someone reading the text word for word (yes, we’ve all been forced to sit through this type of presentation!).

Not very effective, is it? Any text in a presentation should be used to re-emphasise the message…and that’s it! Long sentences are guaranteed to lose your audiences so if you’re going to use text, make them short bullet points instead.

No. 10 – Practice & prepare

If you can do your presentation without the PowerPoint to prompt you, you’ve practiced enough. If you can’t, keep practicing.

Once you know the presentation make sure know everything about the logistics; from the start time to the room layout. If you are prepared you’ll feel comfortable and certainly deliver a far better presentation.

Today’s business world is littered with poor presentations that do not do their presenters justice. Use these tips to make sure your presentations are the ones people remember.

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