Making Your Presentations Better: 5 Tips from 4 Pros


Oct 03, 2013 - by Indra Gardiner Bowers
Making Your Presentations Better: 5 Tips from 4 Pros

In the agency world, we spend a lot of time in presentations.

We're either presenting to prospects, or selling campaigns/ideas to clients, or pitching stories to get the idea.

We've all sat through good and bad presentations, so we all intrinsically know what a "good" presentation requires, yet so many of us continue to make the same mistakes when we present.

Here are a few tips I have picked up along the way that might up your presentation game:

1. Lose the Verbal Crutches

We all have them. The ums, ahs, likes, you knows and other annoying verbal habits that we have no idea are coming out of our mouths, but everyone else in the room is acutely aware of. I recently sat in a presentation by Stacey Hanke who makes her living coaching people on presentation skills. She gave us a couple of great tips to help drop the verbal crutch. The first was to find a friend who could be your reminder. If you have someone you trust to tell you when you're "doing it" you will become more aware in the moment or immediately following a meeting. The other way to do this is to record yourself on your phone. No one needs to know you're recording and you can then squirm in the comfort of your own home, listening to your unconscious verbal ticks. Good times.

2. Lose the PowerPoint

It's mostly just another crutch. If you know your material, you don't really need a deck, unless there are visuals such as graphs that support a particular point. In between each of Hanke's points, she would shut the projector off so that we would focus on her and it worked. One of the best presentations I ever heard was Ariana Huffington speaking to a crowd of about 700 people with nary a PowerPoint in site. She kept the focus on her storytelling, which leads to my next point.

3. Tell Great Stories

The most compelling presentations involve great storytelling. Last week I attended a conference that, believe it or not, did not include one PowerPoint. The best presenter at the conference was inventor Dean Kamen who told some great stories about his experiences becoming an inventor and learning that he didn't want to manufacture his inventions he just wanted to keep on inventing. He told the story with self-deprecating humor, which I suppose is easy to do when you are a genius, millionaire inventor with more than 150 patents to your name.

4. Make Eye Contact

Another one of Hanke's tips and one that I am definitely going to try next week when I present at the North Carolina Public Relations & Marketing Seminar is this: Make eye contact with someone in the audience and hold it for the length of a sentence. Then move on. She did it during her presentation and it's effective. It reminds me of this last tip…

5. Move Around

Staying in one position for an entire presentation isn't natural. Moving expresses energy and the best example of this I've ever seen was Marcus Sheridan aka The Sales Lion. Sheridan moved throughout the entire room, stopping at random tables and asking people questions while doing so. It made everyone stay present, rather than tapping on their phones. You did not want to have Marcus standing in front of you and there you are with your head down. Awkward. So everyone stayed engaged and it made for a dynamic experience.

So there you go. What other tips have you picked up that help you present better?


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