As we continue to navigate and shape the post-pandemic corporate landscape, presentation skills are more important than ever. The ability to deliver a compelling presentation is essential to your leadership toolkit, enabling you to communicate your message in a way that persuades, influences, and inspires your audience.
Whether you are working remotely, in person, or both, we’ve put together this guide to help you improve your presentation skills in a corporate environment and make a lasting impression on your audience every time.
Know your audience
The most important element of any presentation is not the data or the slides you put together, but your audience. If your presentation isn’t tailored to your audience then they simply won’t be interested in what you’re saying.
If you fail to engage your audience, then they won’t take the action you want them to and the whole presentation will have been a waste of time and effort – both yours and theirs!
Before your presentation, it is crucial that you find out everything you can about your audience and what they want to get out of it so that you can meet, and exceed, their expectations. Ask the question ‘what’s in it for me?’ from the perspective of your audience, and then answer it with your content.
Even the most experienced speakers get nervous sometimes, but you can give yourself the best chance of success by preparing and practising as much as you can.
It’s a good idea to record yourself so you can work on any areas of weakness, or better still — get a friend or colleague to critique your performance.
Get used to the environment
If you are presenting in a venue that you’re unfamiliar with, make sure you spend some time getting used to the environment. Walk around the room, practice your presentation out loud, and check the lighting.
Getting comfortable in the space ahead of time will help you to feel less nervous on the day.
Give yourself plenty of time
If you are presenting in the office or at a venue, make sure you arrive early so you can settle in and get comfortable with the environment.
If you’re delivering a virtual presentation, make sure you allow plenty of time to check your lighting, background and equipment.
If you are frequently required to deliver important presentations with minimal time to prepare, make sure that you check out this article for tips on how to present at a moment’s notice.
Use storytelling techniques
As we discussed in previous articles (Corporate Storytelling For Boardroom Presentations and How To Persuade And Influence), storytelling is what brings data to life and keeps your audience engaged from start to finish.
To improve your presentation skills instantly, focus on these key points:
- Decide what you want your audience to think, feel, or do as a result of listening to your presentation
- Craft a narrative with a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end
- Use a storytelling template and adapt it to suit your topic
- Start with an attention-grabbing sentence, statistic or anecdote to hook your audience
- Include power words to emphasise key points and to make your presentation more compelling
Connect with your audience
Make sure you smile and make eye contact with members of your audience throughout the presentation. Research has shown that eye contact can improve a listener’s understanding of what is being said and their ability to retain key information, and smiling will make you seem more likeable and trustworthy to your audience.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through, as this will help your audience to connect with you.
Get your audience involved in your presentation using passive, participative, or pointed audience movement. This will keep them engaged and interested, and it makes things less formal and nerve-wracking for you.
At the end of the presentation, be sure to invite questions and comments.
Keep it conversational
Try to avoid reading directly from your notes or slides, as this will just make you sound monotonous and robotic. If you want to engage your audience, remember to keep your tone natural and conversational with plenty of pauses.
Include humour and anecdotes where appropriate to break things up.
Incorporate movement in your presentation skills
Movement is one of the most effective non-verbal cues we have at our disposal during a presentation. Even if you’re sitting down, you can gesticulate to emphasise key points.
If you’re standing up, utilise the space that is available to you by moving strategically. Use movement as punctuation to separate the ‘chapters’ of your story, but try not to drift away from your audience.
Use the ‘10-20-30 rule’
If you want to bore your audience, one surefire way to do it is to pack each slide full of text and then just read off the screen! When used wisely, however, slides can be a great way to reinforce your message and highlight key themes.
The next time you want to craft an engaging, impactful presentation, try to stick to the ‘10-20-30’ rule of thumb. According to Guy Kawasaki, the marketing expert who coined the term, the perfect presentation should be:
- No more than 10 slides
- No longer than 20 minutes
- No less than 30 pt font
10 slides isn’t a lot, so how do you decide what to include in each one? Just follow the structure outlined below and you’ll be on the right track.
1. Title slide
Give your audience an overview of what your presentation is about.
2. Problem statement
Define the problem that you’re planning to address in your presentation.
Define the goals you’re aiming to achieve through this presentation.
Share your strategy and plan of action for how you’ll achieve these goals.
Provide your market, SWOT, and competitor analysis.
6. Financial Plan
Include your financial plan, revenue projections, and any other relevant metrics.
Include supporting data to validate your analysis and plan. Use visually appealing charts and tables to help your audience understand and retain the information.
A clear timeline helps to establish the direction, priorities and roadmap for achieving your goals.
Introduce your team with headshots, titles and a brief description of their role so that the audience knows who is involved in the project.
10. End slide/Q&A
Leave a lasting impression on your audience with a recap of the presentation and a strong closing statement or thought-provoking rhetorical question. This is also the time to invite questions if you plan on doing a Q&A session.
We provide corporate presentation skills training
You can rely on NxtGEN Executive Presence to help you deliver compelling, engaging presentations that pack a punch.