A few weeks ago, I was asked to do a presentation to a group of about 50 people. I had to cover 2 topics with a 3 hour slot.
The first topic was my business. I know my business. This was the ‘easier’ of the two. The second topic was on the future of the home, entertainment and new business opportunities. This is not my area of expertise.
Many people would have done a bad or mediocre job of this, it had all trappings of a potential train wreck. I knew this could happen, and applied the following ‘personal presentation tenants’ to ensure that it was successful:
1. I practiced. I stood in my hotel room the night before and dry ran the presentations for about 6 hours. When I dry run, I stand up and run the content as if I am presenting. Every time I ran through it, I grew more confident with the content and with my ability to deliver. My advice is that for an important meeting or a presentation, dry run it to increase the likelihood of success and your confidence. Talking out loud in the car, or in a hotel might seem silly at the time, but it works.
2. I made the content mine. I have seen many canned (pre-built) decks delivered in a very wooden way. These deliveries are significantly different than ones where the speaker is passionate and took the time to customize the deck to their own message and for their audience. I brought together several decks to build the messages that I wanted to deliver. Most people take a deck, and deliver it verbatim. If you make the deck ‘yours’, it is apparent to the audience.
3. It was a show. Anyone can read from a slide. The talented presenter knows the content cold and makes the deck ‘come alive’. Use humor, videos and personal anecdotes to connect with the audience, to entertain and make the presentation stand out from others. That is what makes it memorable, your delivery – not the slide.
5. Keep it simple: A slide should not be 42 points.
I use the rule of thumb: What is the single point I am making on a slide? Anything else on it should drive to that point. You do not need to squint to see the content of my slides because they are not cluttered.
Back to that event, it went off without a hitch and people found the presentations interesting and helpful. A plan came together.