Small Business Column: Top tips on how to do a great presentation

Presentations can often be quite daunting, yet at some point, your business will have to do one.

Recently, I did a Smarter Egg talk in Ballincollig where I spoke about how we should embrace failure and how it’s a greater part of our lives than we think it is. So, here are some ideas I learned on making a good presentation.

* It needs to be you: People come to a presentation for two things — to be informed and to hear your take on the subject matter. This means you need to be you, and convey your passion for what you’re talking about. That means few words on the screen, no scripts, and keeping your head up. You want people to be interested in what you’re saying, so sound interested yourself!

* Your slides: Slides with piles of writing on them are a recipe for boredom. If you’re just going to show them words, then you might as well have just emailed the attendees and not asked them to make the trip. Try to use a maximum of two sentences on screen with visuals. Better yet, just use visuals. We are stimulated by visual things, it fits the make-up of our brains easier.

* Engage: Engaging with your audience is key. That doesn’t mean talking to people in the audience outright. Eye contact with people in the audience is a big plus. A tip I learned was to pick four people across the last few rows of the room and talk towards them. You’re looking out across the audience, keeping your head up and engaging them. You know the message, but they need to know it more than you.

* Be prepared: If you want to get to Carnegie Hall, it means practice, practice, practice. It’s no different when doing anything in public. Practice your presentation, memorise it and make bullet-points. Do not write the whole thing out on a script, it will make your presentation a disaster. You need people to be confident in you and what you’re saying; they know you can read so talk to them. It also means that should a piece of technology let you down, you won’t be stranded. The show must go on.

* It’s about stories: Helen Kuyper from 24/7 Storytelling made a presentation after me at Smarter Egg. She made the point that the audience want to hear your story, it humanises the speaker and allows the audience to engage better with them. Don’t be afraid to tell a good story to highlight a point.

* The clock: Most presentations should end around the 15-minute mark. No one wants to sit for ages in the same seat listening to somebody drone on for a lifetime. You want your audience to feel excited and happy that they listened to you, not tired and bored.

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