Editor’s Note: We are pleased to have Karen Adamedes, the author of the book Hot Tips for Career Chicks and the blog Career Tips To Go and owner of strategic business advisory Abney Hall. She is a speaker at business events and as a career expert across many types of media including television. Karen already supported WomanBizLife (now Eunoia Women) in 2012 with her inspiring articles. Here, she shares her tips on effective business presentation. We hope you enjoy her posts!
There’s a great quote from the famous American writer Mark Twain, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech”. This really sums up just how important the preparation is for any presentation. You may not have quite as much time as Mark Twain to prepare a speech but the desire to present well is a widely held ambition.
There are many times when you will be called on to present – and many others when you should take, or make, the opportunity for yourself. These can range from small team meetings to large formal presentations. They may be presentations to people within your organization or to customers, suppliers, or people within your industry. No matter who you present to, how big the audience or the venue, all presentations require you to apply your effort and skills to show you in the best possible light.
Whether your presentation is to sell or tell you are, on some level, selling the importance of your message. And you are certainly selling yourself and your capability. Presentations can be very formal or relaxed and casual, but either way you are still trying to achieve these objectives. Regardless, the basic rules of a high-quality presentation are the same. Whatever the occasion or style, a presentation is an opportunity to showcase your capabilities and influence the perceptions of others in your favor.
Presentations can make or break careers and reputations. No wonder people are so terrified when the consequences are so enormous! It can seem much easier to curl up in a corner than to have to slink around the office because you made a bad presentation. The alternative is to develop your skills so you can use presentations to positively influence your career prospects.
The place to start is with preparation. In my view this is 80% of the work of a presentation. When you get this right you are setting yourself up for the delivery to be as smooth as possible. Because you won’t have left anything to chance.
You will know the needs of the audience, your key messages, the room, the technology and how and what you are going to present. Here are some of my top tips to prepare for presentations:
Determine the purpose – Before you even begin to prepare you need to understand the business objective of a presentation. Is it to provide information or to ask for something such as funding, time or resourcing for your project? Or are you asking a client for their business? Knowing your objective before you start will help you develop your presentation so that you achieve that goal.
Understand your audience – who will be there and what do they want from the presentation?
Ensure your content – is well researched, accurate and meets both the objective of the presentation and needs of the audience.
Determine the structure and style of presentation – decide how you will structure a presentation so that you’re content is logical, relevant and easily understood. The “3 Ts'” structure is always a good one. Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you’ve told them.
Rehearse – there are more than 5 tips just on rehearsing a presentation (that is a topic for another blog!). For today, just remember that rehearsing will help with nerves, increase your confidence and be reassuring (or not!) that you have the right messages being delivered in the right way. If you don’t – it’s a lot better to find out in the rehearsal stage than half-way through an actual presentation!
Presentation skills are essential for career success (and survival!) – don’t be scared…Prepare!