8 ways to make your presentation better straight away
1. When preparing a presentation, your first thought – 100% of the time – must be "what do I want to get out of this presentation?" Write this down and keep referring to it. For every new point you add to your presentation, ask yourself "does this new point help me achieve my objective?" If it doesn't, don't include it in your talk.
2. Always think "The audience is more important than me". Therefore think what will interest them, not what interests you. Also, as C.P. Scott once said "Never overestimate your audience's knowledge; never underestimate their intelligence." Your audience does not know as much about your subject as you. Therefore, help them. Ensure your structure is very easy for them to follow; explain jargon if you can't avoid using it.
3. Want to find the main points of your presentation? The points you absolutely must get across to achieve your objectives? The easiest way to do this is to write all your points down and then play "Winner stays on". Look at the top two points and ask yourself which is the most important. Cross out the other one. Now look at the "winner" (the point you didn't cross out) and compare it to the third point. Again, cross out the less important and compare this new winner to point four. Do this repeatedly and you will find your main points very quickly.
4. Use the word "you" at least once in the first 2 sentences of your talk. If you don't, you are not talking to your audience, you're describing yourself. (A good tip… ask yourself "could my audience think I could give this identical talk to one of their competitors?" If they could think that, it's too impersonal).
5. Practise the first 2% of your talk for at least 20% of your preparation time. Losing them at the start is fatal. Practise every aspect of your start. Not just the words, but your body language, voice, tonality etc.
6. Using PowerPoint? Audiences tend to remember more of the top half of slides than the bottom half. So put your main points at the top. Don't do what most presenters do and build up to your main points at the bottom. Audiences won't remember them.
7. Audience concentration levels dip in the middle of a talk. So don't put your main points there. Bring them in very early instead.
8. If making a sales pitch, mention your unique selling points. And make sure they are unique! "We provide great customer service"… "We treat you as partners, not customers" don't make compelling arguments if your competitors say these same points in their pitches. Which they will.
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