Having the right tools to give great presentations is one huge key to success in the small biz and entrepreneurship world. Getting the right slide deck and presenting it effectively in front of key players in your industry can make a huge difference for your brand AND your business. But not everyone is a natural at giving presentations, and that’s okay — I’ve got some great tips to make it easy!
By applying all three tips below, hopefully you can make the whole process seamless.
1. Practice public speaking.
If you’re having trouble with the actual part where you stand up and give the presentation, that’s okay—a lot of people are uncomfortable with public speaking, even when it’s just in small groups or one-on-one with strangers. But there are tried-and-true methods to get better at it, some of which I’ve covered in a previous article.
The best way to get better is trial-by-fire, and I love a non-profit called Toastmaster International; it has local chapters all over the world that hold classes and seminars to teach you how to speak in public. By getting involved with Toastmasters, you can start in a small, supportive environment and grow your skills from there.
If you’re still struggling, it’s probably because you lack the specific experience of giving presentations. Learning basic public speaking tips and tricks is one thing, making sure you’ve perfected moving through your slides while talking is another. So make sure you find audiences to practice with—friends and family are great, but try to find audiences of strangers to practice on as well. Do you have business contacts or social media followers who might be interested in giving you feedback?
2. Learn how to give a great presentation.
There are a few tips that I think will specifically help your presentations out. First, make it a story, a narrative that you create is much easier to follow and will help you if you get lost or off track. If you have the mental power then memorize the whole thing! At least the main points you want to hit! You should know those cold! Sure, you have have notecards to fall back on in case you get totally lost or stuck, but don’t be holding them and looking down. If you lay out a story or have memorized your main points you’ll find it much easier to deliver it straight to your audience and look them in eyes while you do it!
Also, don’t put every word in your presentation. That’s not what your slides are for. Instead, they need to add extra information to your presentation, not distract from it. What you want is your audience looking at you, and glancing at the slides to help them move along. What you’re trying to avoid is having the audience zone out while reading paragraphs embedded in your slides. So, use only a few bullet points or event better pictures to help reinforce your point. Visual elements like inforgraphics, charts and graphs can be helpful as well. That way they’ll add value to what you’re saying without losing the message you’re going for. And dont forget about video, video when used effectively can be a great way to break up the presentation and help communicate your message in different ways.
Finally, be upfront about what people will get out of your presentation. If you’re teaching something, let your audience know upfront exactly what they’ll learn and how they’ll be able to use the knowledge you’re passing on. Leaving your audience in mystery helps no one.
3. Make sure technology is on your side.
So you’ve got the presentation itself perfect, and you’ve got your skills practiced. But what if something goes wrong? Hopefully, you’ve got backups of everything.
First, make sure you have an emergency box. This is somewhere you’ll put extras and backups of every cable, adapter and connector you could possibly need. Second, don’t ever rely on an Internet connection to work when you’re presenting. At conferences, every attendee is likely to have WiFi on their smartphones and tablets, so the likelihood of your being able to, say, stream a video live is zero. Embed your videos in your presentation instead.
Now, and this is a huge step, make absolutely sure you’ve got multiple backups of your presentation in a whole bunch of different formats. Not just on your computer, but on a flash drive and stored online in at least one cloud storage folder as well.
Finally, and this is critical! Make sure you absolutely do a full tech run-through before you start. If you’re in a conference room at a business, get there at least 30 minutes early and try and test your entire setup before the meeting. At an event, see if there’s rehearsal time early or even the day before. If you can’t do either of these, then at least try and see the space before you start so you can visualize what you’ll need to do to set up, present, and completely kill it. Finally, make sure you ask ahead of time exactly what the set-up will be, what special needs might arise, and make sure you have everything you’ll need to connect and get your presentation off to a great start.
Still struggling with some aspect of giving presentations? Leave a comment or question below and I’ll be sure to jump in and help you out!
Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show, CNN, HLN and Fuse. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.