The world of presentations is a minefield. On one hand, we finally have the opportunity to impress our customers or suppliers, or are planning to make a good impression on the management or the Board of Directors as we present the annual report. The knowledge of the imortance of the moment weighs heavy on our shoulders. We have been thinking about little else all week. "Don't blow it!" you keep saying to yourself. Last night you didn't sleep so well and could dream of nothing else but of finishing the presentation and getting out of there as fast as possible. You enter the conferrence room and see all the faces waiting for YOU. Your throat goes dry. You begin a little nervously but manage to get through the first slide. You move onto the second slide which comes up on the screen behind you, then…BLACKOUT ! You just cannot remember what you had planned to say. You retreat to your fall-back position of reading the slides, and at the end of the session you are more disappointed than the audience from your unimpressive presentation.
Yes, it is true that some managers are more able to speak in public and have done it many times. However, that does not mean that there is nothing that we can do to improve our presentation skills and get our message across effectively, and in an impressive fashion.
It will come as no great surprise to anyone that Preparation is a key factor in making a successful presentation. The problem becomes "What to prepare and how?"
Presentation Technique is divided into two elements, the Verbal part or, in other words, what you are going to say, and the Technical part meaning the way you are going to present the words.
The Verbal problem is compounded when we have to make a presentation in a foreign language, and my book How to Manage in English deal with this in depth.
While the word "Technique" sounds professional and mysterious, we can start by becoming aware of basic errors like standing with our back to the audience, playing with keys or pens, shuffling our papers and focusing our eyes either on the screen or the table instead of looking towards the front of the room. And if you are wearing a clip microphone, don't forget to take it off when you take a bathroom break – an unfortunate error I saw (and heard…) made by an experienced speaker some years ago.
In short, with a little thought, planning and preparation you will avoid many basic mistakes and give yourself the confidence required to make a successful presentation.