Whether you are pitching a new business idea or whether you are outlining a new strategy, being able to carry out a presentation in a confident, knowledgeable and convincing manners is crucial. Facing an audience might seem like a mighty challenge, but it does not necessarily have to be, providing you stick to a few guidelines.
IBTimes UK has compiled a list of suggestions to help you crack your next presentation.
1) Grab your audience's attention
Straightforward as it may sound, the best way to begin a business presentation – or any presentation, for that matter – is by getting the audience to focus on the speaker. Of course, you want to introduce yourself and delve into the details of your presentations as quickly as possible, but without the audience's attention that could be a worthless task.
If getting a room full of people to focus on you seems like a daunting task, try and get their attention by telling a short story – not longer than 60 or 90 seconds – or a joke, before launching into the presentation.
2) Thank your audience
Once you have managed to get your audience attention, welcome them with a thank you. For example, beginning a presentation by thanking your listeners for the opportunity to speak to them will help break the ice between you and your audience and make them feel part of a conversation, rather than simply sat in a room listening to a stranger talking.
3) Do your homework
While memorising your whole speech is nigh on impossible and likely to make you sound like a broken record, keeping in mind the first couple of sentences could be very useful. Even the best presentation in the world could be disrupted if the speaker fluffs the opening lines and has to negotiate an awkward silence less than two minutes into a speech.
Similarly, memorising the closing lines is a very effective way to end the presentation on a confident note, which can be very important as your final words will often be what will stick in the audience's mind for longer.
4) Be clear about your presentation
Obvious as it might seem, it is always worth to begin a presentation by clearly stating what its purpose is and what you will bring to it. In most cases, the audience will know what you are pitching or what the presentation is about, but the same pitch delivered by two different individuals can have a completely different reach, therefore make sure your audience understands the direction you will lead them in.
Likewise, while slides are important, they are not to be considered the be-all end-all of your presentations. Do not rely exclusively on them and make sure your words convey the message.
5) Remain engaging and energetic throughout
Even if your presentation is not extremely long, speaking to strangers while remaining engaging at all times is a challenging task. However, if you really want to convey your message through ensuring members of the audience do not drift off is of paramount importance.
Remember that if you come across as bored or tired, your public will quickly pick up on it.
6) Speak with your body, not just with your mouth
Similarly, your body language will play a major role in whether you come across as engaging and energetic throughout the presentation. Make sure to use your hands, facial expressions, and make eye to keep the audience engaged.
7) Build bridges
Ensuring the audience remains focused when the presentation moves from a topic to another is crucial. To do so, consider using so-called "bridge words" and "bridge phrases" such as "meanwhile", "however" and "finally", as well as "do you remember when I said," "on the other hand" and so on. Doing so will not disrupt the flow of your presentation and will keep the listeners engaged.
8) Simple does it
Finally, but by no means less importantly, remember to keep the presentation as simple as possible. There is no need to overcomplicate it simply in an effort to grab your public's attention or to sound particularly clued up on a particular topic.
Often people attending your presentation will be knowledgeable about the topic of your presentation, but at times they may not be, therefore keeping the presentation simple will make it more engaging to them and should ensure they remain focused.