Step 1: Relax
Think of the bigger picture. It’s just a presentation and, no matter how much is riding on it, no one’s died. It doesn’t really matter. Even if you were to stand up there with a frying pan on your head, do a funny little dance and faint, in the grand scheme of things no one’s really going to care. So go in there with a care-free attitude.
Step 2: Practice
The better you know your source material the better. You need to be able to answer any questions, no matter how left-field they are, in an enthusiastic and well-versed manner. Read, and re-read around the topic as much as possible.
Step 3: Don’t be afraid to stop
Pausing for thought is not a crime. A dramatic pause at the end of a blistering point will not only work wonders, but will give you time to sneakily plan what you’re saying next.
Step 4: Handouts
Print out handouts of your presentation. This serves two purposes: firstly, your audience will be able to refer back to your points when the presentation is a distant memory and, most importantly, it’ll give them something to look at that isn’t you.
Step 5: Use PowerPoint
And use it well. Make sure it’s well written, with clear, concise points. There’s no point putting an essay up there because no one will read it while you’re talking. Get to the crux of your current message, and summarise it in three-to-five key points.
Don’t be afraid to copy slides so you can return it between slides later in the presentation, it’ll help hammer an important point home.
Use PowerPoint as a visual prompt – it’s there to replace cheat-sheets, so use it as such.
Step 6: Jazz It Up
A white page with three bullet-points on it is boring. Use PowerPoint with SmartArt and make your presentation visually compelling. Give your audience something to look at. Use as many slides as you like, and refresh through them at a quick enough rate that they never become stale. Using colour and styles is dead easy now thanks to the massive array of options under the ‘Design’ tab. Colours, fonts, all that, ready for you to use. So use it.
Step 7: Numbers
If your presentation contains number, beware: numbers are boring to look at. It’s possible to kill an audience member with a boring enough number, so turn it into a chart. Pie Charts work well because you can click and drag segments to make them stand out. You can even do them in 3D, which looks so professional you’d scarcely believe it.
Step 8: Presenter View
Presenter View is a special feature of PowerPoint you’re probably not aware of. It’s a second screen you can have on a laptop in front of you that will show you extra details.
So, you can make notes down the side of a slide that only you can see. There’s also a timer so you know how long you’ve been waffling on for, what slides are coming up next and all sorts. It’s an invaluable tool.
Step 9: Picture Them Naked
Because that always works.
Presentations are a pain, but a necessary pain. Get it right and you could be looking at promotion. So get it right..