Here’s how to create a lasting impression for all the right reasons. 

In theory, presentations should be simple enough. If you’re prepared, focused and confident, everything will go excellently, right? Well, as we all know, the reality is that plenty of people are terrified of presenting in public, particularly when there’s a lot at stake. This guide, however, will go a long way to ensuring you’ll impress your audience. 

Planning your presentation

At the outset, you’ll need to know the famous five ‘Ws’:

  • Who will you be presenting to?
  • What will you be presenting?
  • Where will it happen?
  • When will it be?
  • Why is this happening?

Once you have answered each of these Ws, you will be in a far stronger position, and will be well on the way towards a successful presentation.

Once you know the makeup of your audience and what you’ll be focusing on, you’ll be able to decide what kind of presentation would work best for your audience. It could take the form of a briefing, a speech, a training session or even a conference session.

Consider how much time you have and remember you want to impress the audience as much as possible. If it’s a young crowd, it would be advisable to include photography, online elements and even video content. However, a more mature audience may be better served with a more direct, speaking approach.

Make it memorable

Nobody wants to watch you muddle through a stilted presentation, glancing up irregularly from your notes. You need to impress the audience with some anecdotes, demonstrations, brainstorming techniques and even some innovative tables and graphs.

The more you can do to diversify your presentation, the more interested the audience will be. Don’t assume your presentation will be boring. You can ensure great content, no matter what you’re presenting on.

Confidence is imperative. Practice your presentation often beforehand, so that it becomes second nature. If you have real knowledge and insight into what you’re talking about, you’ll have a much better chance of succeeding. Video yourself practising with your mobile phone, and take notes on your performance afterwards. The more critical you are, the better you will be.

Encourage audience involvement through questions or even games. This will eliminate any tension you may be feeling and make the crowd relax and hopefully encourage some two-way conversations. If you can encourage some authentic discussion, you’ll be on the right track.

Check out the location

If you aren’t familiar with your meeting room, the chances are that you might be caught unaware on the day of the presentation. Common issues include:

  • Does a certain pillar block your line of sight?
  • Does the room have an echo?
  • Will everyone be able to see you, or will you need to walk around while presenting?

Be sure to check out the venue before your presentation and, if possible, practise speaking to the empty room beforehand. You’ll be surprised how much this simple task will put you at ease. Run through your presentation as well. If there are any issues with files, formats or content, you will want to identify them before your presentation to avoid getting flustered. Ensure that everything is in working order.

Relax, you'll be fine

Public speaking is among the greatest fears that humans have, so take comfort in the fact that however nervous you are, someone has delivered a more important speech while suffering from worse nerves. The audience will want you to succeed, and by preparing well, having confidence in your material, not being afraid of mixing up the presentation and getting the audience involved, you won’t. A good presentation can be the spur you need for some much-needed investment or sales, so go for it!

6 Action Points

1

Know your subject. Your audience will be able to spot a bluffer a mile away. Ensure that you will be presenting on a topic that you have an intimate knowledge of. It will put you at ease, and the audience will be reaffirmed of your professionalism.

2

Planning is everything. Know the who, what, where, when and why of your presentation, so that there are no surprises.

3

Modify the presentation for your audience. Know what they want, and give it to them.

4

Get the audience involved. Nobody wants to sit through a boring, one-way lecture. Get your audience talking by asking questions, and introducing games and brain-storming techniques. If your presentation is memorable, you will be too.

5

Get familiar with your location. Know the room in which you’ll be speaking. You don’t want any nasty surprises on the day.

6

Go for it. The vast majority of people have nerves before a presentation or speech. Have faith in your planning, your delivery and yourself.