Whether you use PowerPoint or flashy technology to build your presentation, if you don’t know the basics of a good presentation you will just end up wasting everyone’s time and bore the audience to death.

Knowing what makes for a killer presentation and what kind of presentation kills the audience’s interest is a very vital skill that becomes more and more important as you climb up the corporate ladder. Whether you are the one preparing the actual presentation or the one who approves it, you need to know the ingredients of a killer presentation. Objective of this article to provide you exactly that. Read on.

Of the 100s of things that you can do in a presentation, we have distilled the knowledge into less than 3 pages. If you implement even 50% of what we discuss here, your presentations can be dramatically improved.

Stage 1: Tightening the objective of your presentation. There are three objectives of a presentation:

1. Understanding
2. Enabling decision making by connecting with your audience
3. Immediate Relevance

Understanding:  Before you can work on any presentation you need to have a firm grasp of what the underlying objective is. This cannot be a vague idea – it has to be fully fleshed out clearly defined easily understandable synopsis of what that objective is. If you don’t have one, stop.  Think. Write down the objective. Generally the objective includes defining: Risk & call for action.

Risk: What is at risk? Why should anyone care? What happens if no one paid attention to your presentation. If there is nothing at risk – then there is nothing for people to pay attention to. Defining a compellingly strong risk factor is pivotal in grabbing attention of your audience. There has to be something at stake, so to speak, for anyone to care.  This doesn’t have to negative at all, if you don’t take such and such action, you will lose $$ also works.

Call for action: Your presentation next main objective is to call for action. Not only should your presentation lay out the risks, it also has to provide the knowledge of what needs to be done: the key piece of ACTION as a preventive or remedial step. If you are presenting in front of a potential client your call for action should include ‘how you can help them perform what needs to be done to meet their goals.’

2. Know your audience: How relevant is your presentation to your audience? If you are presenting about god’s will to bunch of atheists – no matter how powerful your presentation is – it will have zero or negative impact.

To make your presentation powerfully relevant – customize it for your audience. If you are talking to a CEO – he/she may only be interested in global impact, $$ value and what needs to be done – all in a condensed 2 minute brief presentation. C level execs don’t have all day to listen to your clicks through a mind numbing 100 slide deck. If you were to present to a mid-level management who will actually be doing the work a 2 minute presentation may leave them confused and annoyed, in this case, you may need a presentation that lays out what is at stake and how they are to tackle it. Again knowing your audience and catering  to their needs is of high significance for a presentation to have maximum impact.

3. Immediate relevance: You got the first two elements covered to the dot: you got an impeccable objective that hits all the right nodes with your client and you got your presentation customized for the CEO you were presenting to and s/he is impressed. Then what? You need the third key element. Immediate relevance!

‘You have to be compliant with Obama care act’ is a relevant statement but ‘you have to comply with Obama care by next month or you may end up paying up to 2 million dollars in fines for every incident of non-compliance’ signifies an immediate relevance.

Relevance is good but not good enough: Filing your tax returns on time is must – is a relevant statement but if I were to tell you “you have to complete your returns in next 30 days or government will come after your assets”; Which one do you think has more impact?  Which one will move you to take action? To create immediate relevance you have to talk about the monetary and non-monetary impact as well as the timeline in which the action needs to be taken. Where monetary impact is not immediately known, pull out the worst case scenarios as examples (possibly from the same industry).

good presentation skills

Stage 2: Build, Practice and deliver: A powerful presentation without a compelling presenter will not have the impact desired. To become a compelling presenter you have to practice. There is no alternative to practice even if you are awesome at presenting in general.

1. Building your presentation: No matter what technology you use i) after you have your objective in place, ii) you know who your audience is and iii) what is most important for them, you have to create a sense of connected flow throughout your presentation. You can use signposts to create a route map throughout your presentation or you can keep referencing the objective as reference on where you started, where you are and where you are heading. Use relevant examples, real industry numbers, peer comparisons, quotes, pictures throughout your presentation. Using novelty without losing the professionalism is a key differentiator in keeping your audience engaged. The sense of direction and unexpected novelty helps audience stay engaged.

2. Practice it on your guinea pigs: Find a team member, family member, friend or your boss and present your work to them. Try and persuade them. Ask them to keep you honest. Ask them what they liked and what they think is missing. Keep tweaking until you hear yourself delivering a ‘free flowing’ presentation. If you see yawns during your mock presentation know that something needs to be changed. Question yourself – do your slides have enough opportunities for the audience to get engaged? If not, rebuild your presentation to include situations, examples and questions that will stir a conversation. The success of your presentation depends on encouraging a 2 way dialogue. One way presentation is a sure sign of a boring presentation.

3. Test out technology beforehand: Somethings work on Mac and somethings work on Windows, some presentations look awesome on laptop but pale out on a projector, some technologies may not work outside your office or in a different load set. There are 100 different things that can go wrong and you can better prepare yourself by testing it out by creating a mock internal session.

4. Create stir/intrigue about your presentation: You can do this by sending a follow-up a day or two in advance and posing some very relevant questions. For example: Do you know how Obama Care Act is going to impact your department, particularly with what you are doing now in your business? Do you know if you are prepared to tackle the challenges ahead?  If not, please make sure you attend this presentation on 7/7/2015 at 10 am. Even those that may have missed the original invite may get on the list by enrolling now. Other advantage of creating the stir is your audience will build anticipation for your presentation and they may even come with questions which makes the presentation all the more engaging for everyone.

Other basic elements to check:

– always spell check your slides.

– avoid wordiness.

– each frame (or slide) should be neat and easy to read.

– all statistics and numbers should be confirmed for accuracy (or they go out).

– all borrowed information should be cross-checked and referenced accordingly.

– If you ensure that your presentation addresses the above elements – you will sure have a killer presentation.

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