Years ago, most corporations were very compartmentalized and hierarchical. Today they work in teams. It’s not uncommon to find yourself collaborating not only with members of your department but also with vendors from other companies and colleagues who live in a different country. Everyone is kept informed of what is going on with various projects through meetings. And during these meetings presentations are given. In his book, I Hate Presentations, workshop leader and business coach James Caplin asked a number of professionals how often they must present information to a group. The answer was “at least once a day”.
Those who work for themselves also frequently make presentations to clients, potential partners and other stakeholders. Being able to communicate your message is a necessary skill that must be developed and honed.
Find out the needs of your audience and deliver.
Phil Andrews, public relations professional and the current president of the 100 Black Men of Long Island organization, says that when giving a presentation whether it’s written or oral, it’s important to cater to the specific needs of your audience.
“We often are guilty of focusing on selling points that are important to us rather than the customer,” says Andrews. “A good friend of mine always stated that selling is an ‘away game’. It does not happen in your mind, but in the mind of the prospect.”
According to Caplin, the best way to find out what your audience members want is to ask. Ask them what they want you to talk about and what they’d hate to hear you talk about. “If, at the presentation, you deliver on what they told you they wanted to hear, you should back up any message about the level of service you offer with a demonstration of it,” writes Caplin.
Engage your audience.
“One idea I’ve used in the past is engaging the audience,” says speaker and trainer, Deborah Clark. If you know your material well, Clark contends, your passion will ignite your presentation.
“It’s great to start out with a question that will get the attention of the audience, and create curiosity. Just be sure to keep it relevant to the material, and bring it all together in the closing remarks,” she said.
Keep it simple.
“Use simple, easy-to-understand language while providing the most important details in as few words as possible,” says Jessica Ann Mitchell, public relations manager and marketing coordinator with Rainbow Uniforms. “This makes your message easy to remember, yet informative. It also prevents you from boring your audience.”
Alan M. Perlman author of Perfect Phrases for Executive Presentations asserts that most presentations contain far too much information for the audience to retain. “Confine yourself to just a few points that relate to your central purpose,” writes Perlman. One way to do this is to briefly outline what you’re going to talk about at the outset of your presentation, then stick to the plan.