The knowledge: Presentation tips

Effective presentation skills are invaluable in business. Julia Kirkland, Chartered MCSI, Managing Partner at Financial Services Training Partners, gives five handy hints to help you get your message across

1. What is the purpose?
Consider your audience, give thought to why they are there and what they want to hear. Make it clear at the outset what you are going to do and follow your plan. Remember the ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIIFM) principle – the audience does not want this to be a waste of its time.

2. Tell a story
Having a story or theme running through your presentation will make people remember what you have said. You may be there to ‘sell’ them something or to give them some important information. Telling them stories – delivered with humour and ‘Ah ha!’ moments – that explain how you have helped others and how that could benefit them will make it more memorable.

3. Give a performance
You don’t have to be Judi Dench or  Billy Connolly, but no one enjoys listening to someone drone on in monotone. Think about the use of inflection, pace and use of pauses. If you are able to memorise your script, then great, but that requires practice. Remember, the slicker, the better.

4. Use of media
PowerPoint, visuals and handouts can be effective presentation tools, but only when used correctly. Try not to put too much on slides – the audience might feel they could just as easily read the presentation. Focus instead on storytelling and performance.

5. Leave them motivated to take action
The best presentations lead to action, even if that is only posing questions that make the audience leave with a sense of purpose to change what they are doing. Your ideal world would be a queue of people wanting to discuss your presentation and ask questions about how it can make a difference to them.

The original version of this article was published in the December 2015 print edition of the Review.
Published: 14 Dec 2015
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