Top five ways to give great presentations

Say “presentation” to the average professional. Go ahead. I dare you.

Let’s face it. It wasn’t that long ago that the color printer in the office was spitting out transparency after transparency to use on an overhead projector. When projectors started to plummet in price, the printing subsided, but the slides marched on.

A recent survey of potential clients for advertising agencies revealed one of the top reasons they selected one agency over another was the quality of the presentation. To deliver a truly great presentation, many pieces must come together — the content, the layout, the room, how everything looks when projected, and finally, the person presenting the information. You’ve got a point to make or a story to tell, but sound effects and complicated (and sometimes distracting) slide transitions aren’t the answer. Here are some ideas to turn a Slide Parade into a memorable, interactive discussion that will show your business off.

• Don’t say it, show it. You don’t need a staff videographer to inject some video into your presentations. Sites like YouTube and Vimeo have thousands of clips you can use to make your point. Invite Don Draper to your next meeting, or inject a little Twisted Sister to keep everyone’s attention. Thirty seconds of video can really help drive a point home.

• Unleash your creativity — and yourself. A flood of new technology has made it affordable for companies of all sizes to cut the cord — at least the one that connects the computer to the projector. Rather than sitting behind a screen, or wasting a staff member’s time to turn pages (and who doesn’t love to hear the phrase “next slide” every minute or so?), use wireless technology to stand up, walk around and really engage every member of the discussion. Apps exist to allow you to use a smart phone or tablet as a remote, allowing you to focus on your participants, not your slides. Use your iPhone or iPad to give you freedom to move about the room so you can keep the notes in front of you that your audience will not see and therefore, eliminate the dreaded note cards.

• Cut your travel budget. Today’s conference rooms can affordably become video teleconferencing centers, allowing you to bring talent from anywhere right to your office without plane tickets, hotel rooms or rental cars. We’ve seen businesses bring in national speakers via teleconferencing programs like Visimeet/IOCOM and invite prospects over for an intimate, two-way presentation that would have cost thousands the old way. Videoconferencing also allows you to present your ideas nearly live to clients or prospects all over the country, letting you put your best foot forward in your conference room or out of it.

• Let your optometrist handle the eye charts. I often see two problems with slides: too many words and too little brightness. Put them together, and your hard work and good ideas don’t shine through. Slides are not scripts. Just put down a few words — or better, a graphic or two — to guide your discussion. And consider upgrading that low-end projector. High-quality projectors make a big difference, and many conference rooms can benefit from a flat panel display instead of a projector. Your optometrist will be proud of you.

• Read to your children, not to your colleagues. In addition to using fewer words, don’t simply read the ones you do use aloud. A quick poll of the room will probably find everyone there can read just fine. Instead, as noted above, use the slides to guide an organized and thoughtful discussion.

Focus on What’s Important

Advances in technology have given business more choices in two important areas: cost and ease of use.

How many times have all of us been in a conference room when a member of the IT staff had to be called in to make a computer talk to a projector? The participants sit and make awkward small talk, hoping to get moving soon.

Fortunately, today’s technology is not only less expensive than just a few years ago, and most systems have become “plug and play.” No more drivers, settings or guesswork, so your IT staff is free to focus on important strategic projects rather than running to the conference room a couple of times every day. If you have a guest who brings their own laptop, it will easily interface with today’s systems in just a few seconds.

Also gone are the days of complicated settings and menus. Many systems can now easily controlled with a tablet or smartphone through an intuitive, easy-to-understand interface — little to no training required.

You’ve got good ideas, or you wouldn’t be in business. Take the time to put these tips in place, spruce up your surroundings and polish your pitch. You’ll get results.

Categories: Management & Leadership