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6 Tips to Improve your Presentations

Today, every modern job requires public speaking skills. Be it to present a topic to higher executives, investors, managers or prospecting customers, being able to craft a good presentation and deliver it, is a must. The skills to plan, develop and deliver a professional presentation are no longer associated with high management, public speakers or academia. The current modern workplace demands its employees to be able to transmit messages across the organization in a way that engage and drive action.

The following paragraphs provide 6 actionable tips applied by experienced presenters that can be considered best practices. Applying them will not guarantee your presentation success but the lack of them shows a lack of maturity in the field. We suggest the reader to go over the tips in their next presentations and use it as a checklist in order to be sure that the basic pillars of professional presentations are met.

Tip #1 – Create your presentation script in order to tell your story.

As most of us, whenever someone is asked to do a presentation, the first action it takes is to open PowerPoint (or any of its substitutes as Google Slides or Keynote) and start throwing bullets in the canvas, in order to organize ideas and content. Even though this sounds like a reasonable path, the process is not as effective and efficient as the one applied by professional presenters. As a professional speaker and consultant Nancy Duarte says, “Messages stick when they are part of a story”. Your message must be scripted. This means it has: 

  • Introduction

  • Rise Action (facts and events that lead to something)

  • Climax (Main topic of the presentation)

  • Falling action (path to resolution)

  • Conclusion (call to action)

Structuring your message as a story (independent of the subject matter of the presentation) you will be able to empathize, generate consensus and drive action.

Tip #2 – Know your Audience

Reduce the distance with your audience. Get to know them. Your message is important and you need their trust. You can’t do that if you don’t build some “relationship” with your audience.

If the audience is small (sales pitch or management meeting) your people skills will leverage. Introduce yourself, and try to achieve and individual connection with each of them. Make eye contact with all of them, in turn, and make them feel you are speaking to them. Engage into conversation and take advantage of the possibility of interactions.

If you will present to a large audience, try to segment it according to interests, in order to craft your message in a way that connects to each segment in different pieces of your message.

Tip #3 – Deliver your presentation in smaller batches

This tip should be used with caution. Do not abuse as it can also have the opposite effect.

Plan your speech in small chunks of 10 to 15 minutes. When reaching the end of the current chunk, gauge your audience and if they look bored, or not engaged, make a break or disrupt with an interaction exercise. The idea is to let the brain of your audience fix the message while you change the context. In cycles of lower attention a change of contexts helps the brain to swap the information into memory and helps retain important facts.

Tip #4 – Create a Professional Looking Deck

Acceptable visual design is not good enough anymore. Your presentation needs to be aided with a professionally designed deck that woows your audience. With the explosion of digital transformation, more and more employees have in hands the most modern tools to achieve visual design like a pro. You can create pixel perfect designs with affordable and easy to use tools.

But if you do not have the skills for professional design, try to use a ready made professional powerpoint background that is already crafted with best practices in layout and colors, as well accompanied with shapes and diagrams where you can include your content. 

Do not follow the traditional flaw of slides filled with bullets. 

Tip #5 – Give handouts or reference material of your presentation

Do not mistake this tip with giving out the slides you used in your presentation. Generally Handouts and reference material drills downs in data or information presented in your speech backing it up with details. If your presentation deck is professional, it will empower your speech, not speak on its own. Your handouts should highlight sections of your speech and include references, facts and metrics which are impossible to describe while presenting.

Tip #6  – End with a simple call to action

Most of the times, presentations are delivered to convince, persuade or transmit a message. Make sure that your conclusion always includes a simple call to action. In case you are selling something, ask for the purchase order. If you are transmitting a project status, request a confirmation of each milestone and resources to move forward, in case of a business review, ask your audience for acceptance of the business case, etc. Model your message to end up with a call to action.

Conclusion

Checking this 6 tips every presentation will help you cover basic pillars used by professionals with proven track record of presentation success.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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