You may not know it, but you are already an expert on presentation skills. I mean, how many presentations both good, and bad, have you suffered in your time at work? Clearly you can recognise a 'good' presentation and a 'bad' presentation, but let's take a look at what makes a presentation so. More importantly let's look at what you can do to improve your own presentation skills.
Here are my top 5 tips:
1.The Start (and the End!)
Open on a high and finish on equal high– start and finish your presentation with a story or example or key point, something that will both relax you and get the audience engaged, and leave them wanting to find out more at the end.
Getting the audience's attention right from the beginning is essential –and remember that if you lose your audience in the first 10 minutes then it's very hard to get them back.
If you talk about something you know well, then rehearse to control your time and avoid getting 'carried away'. If you don't know the subject well then still rehearse and possibly invite people who know more than you do on the subject to be there to support you if needed.
Don't try and deliver 100% in the presentation – takeaways/hand-outs/additions etc. are all acceptable as follow-ups after the event.
It's not the volume but the message that counts. It's better to prepare and deliver a great 30 minutes rather than a mediocre 60 minutes. Mediocrity, or worse, wastes people's time. The average presentation is around 60mins. So if the average audience size is 100 people then it's not just 1 hour of your time, but 100 hours of audience time. That's over 4 days! Last year I presented to around 7,000 people: that's 292 days of great value, or wasted time if I got it wrong.
'But I need to fill my hour slot': Well, hands up anyone who has ever complained about a presentation finishing early. On the other hand, do make sure you are prepared for last minute changes to schedule or other time constraints. Be flexible, and make sure you are prepared for an effective presentation whatever happens.
4.The Practicalities, or the three Ps
Prepare: a well-rehearsed presentation will keep your audiences' attention.
Present: the smallest part time-wise.
Profit: your audience should gain value from the experience.
5. Break the Rules
There are a number of 'rules' that you may have been taught over the years.
6:6:1 rule (6 bullets /6 words/1 idea on one slide) – not a bad rule but try to avoid it and use pictures instead of words where possible. Remember that the slides (if you have them) are for your audience and not for you!
Agenda-tell them what are you going to tell, then tell and then tell what you have told them. Absolutely not (!): entertain them, educate them, leave them wanting more, and open to engagement after the presentation.
Thank the audience– well yes, but to simply close this way may be very flat. Better to close out with a call to action, or simple 'next step'.
Break the rules and have fun with your next presentation!
Peter Taylor is a Speaker, Consultant, Trainer and Coach. He is the author of the Number 1 bestselling project management book 'The Lazy Project Manager', along with many other books on Project Management, PMO development, Executive Sponsorship, Transformation Leadership, and Speaking Skills.
He has built and led some of the largest PMOs in the world with organisations such as Siemens, IBM, and Kronos. In 2020 he was awarded the PMO Global Alliance 'PMO Influencer of the Year Award'.
He has delivered over 450 lectures around the world in over 25 countries and has been described as 'perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today'.
The recording, presentation and Mentimeter results can be found here.