Many managers and leaders eventually find themselves asked to give a presentation, but if it’s not a regular part of the job it can feel stressful. Like any skill, giving a great presentation takes practice, and the more research, prepping, and practice you do, the smoother it will go.
There are three components to giving a presentation: preparation, the presentation itself, and following up. Here are some best practices to help you feel comfortable, engage your audience, and overall deliver a great presentation:
Preparation is what you do before giving a presentation, and has a significant influence on how your confidence, as well as how smoothly your presentation will go. Here are some things you’ll want to take care of in the preparation stage:
- Define expectation: Defining your audience and their expectations will help set you up for success. Once you know the expectations of your audience, such as their questions, what they’re hoping to learn, and what their problems are, you better prepare to answer them.
- Know your audience: Are you going to be presenting to executives, stakeholders, project teams, or different businesses? Knowing who you’re talking to, such as their levels and experiences will help you communicate with them more effectively, and help you tailor your presentation to their needs.
- Know your venue: Be familiar with where you will be presenting. Is it a small conference room, an auditorium, or some other kind of event space? Event spaces can vary widely in size, seating, and equipment, so it’s important to visit the venue so you know what to expect. You’ll want to make sure there is enough seating, the equipment you need, and that tables are arranged how you want them.
- Time. How long do you have? Is there a limit to how long you can be at the venue? How long is your presentation and how much time do you need to fill? These are all important questions you’ll want to answer.
After you’ve prepared and done your research, these are things you’ll want to do the day of or during the presentation:
- Arrive and set up early:Make sure all your critical resources are there and everything is “ok.” Make sure everything is hooked up, and tested.
- Get your hook: Introductions are a real skill, but you can take time writing and researching ahead of time for something that will grab your audience’s attention. Practice your intro – a smooth opening will get you off to a good start.
- Delivery:Practice your tone, how you transition between topics and how you work visuals into your presentation.
- Pace: If you’ve practiced your presentation a lot, and you really know your material, you may find that your delivery is a little too fast. Remember that your audience members have never heard your information before, so make sure you’re going at a good pace and taking pauses when necessary
- Questions: Do you plan on taking questions? Make sure you know where you’ll leave room for questions, and possibly, how to answer the commonly asked.
- Next steps: If there’s anything that your audience needs to do as a result of the presentation, like take a course, download something, read a pamphlet, then make sure you’re prepared for what comes next as a result of your presentation.
To wrap things up and leave your audiences with a means of contacting you, here are some best-practices to do following your presentation:
- Provide contact information: Make sure you have enough business cards and you’ve given your audience a means of contacting you should they need to.
- Write down questions: If anyone asks a question, you should make notes at this time. You can even write their question on the back of a guest’s business card if they provide one.
- Send a thank you: You can thank groups or individuals for participating or thank them for taking your session. Sending a thank you is also a good opportunity to recap or send takeaways if you need to.
- Follow up on next steps:What takeaways are they expecting? If there’s anything you’re leaving behind as a “next step” for your audience, make sure they have all the information they need to do the next step.
Next time you’ve been assed to give a presentation, use these tips and you’ll feel far more comfortable and you’ll more easily reach your audiance.