It’s hard to become a successful intra- or entrepreneur without the ability to present your idea, product or service. In such a busy world, a premium is placed on time and most people don’t have it to waste. Nothing ruins an investor or a superior’s day other than a poor presentation after giving time to listen to a pitch. As often said, people buy from people they like and this likeness comes from what you say the moment you open your mouth to speak and how you say it, which makes presentation skills important for anyone willing to sell either a product, service or an idea. I know how nerve-racking the experience can be for most people to stand and speak in front of a small group of people, not to mention, a boatload of them. The sweaty palms, shaky voice, forgetfulness, talking off points and standing to bear the disappointing facial expressions on your audience can be very embarrassing. However, from in-depth study and experience, I found out everyone has the potential to present and with finesse too. There are just three areas to take care of in order to nail that next presentation and they are:
This is what you naturally know about the idea, product or service you are about to present. I used the word ‘natural’ because of the depth of information you have which can help you break down your points into easily digestible forms for various audiences. Base knowledge can also come from experience or studying the particular area you are presenting over a suitable period of time, as you would have acquired a vast amount of knowledge to adapt to all kinds of pitches you might have to do. This is a vital presentation area as it helps to boost your confidence level, respond effectively to questions, and connect easily with various kinds of audiences. With base knowledge, you can present wherever and whenever you are invited to speak on any topic closer to what your idea, product or service is about, even in sudden situation, which might throw most people off balance due to their inability to quickly rehearse. How rich is your base knowledge on the subject of your next presentation?
This is based on how much information you can dig up, about your presentation subject area, within a short period of time to be up to par in your delivery. This mostly comes from research which can be done by surfing the internet, reading books, talking to people in similar fields, drawing from previous related works, seeking expert judgments and many more. Combining this with base knowledge, you have both the historic and current knowledge to draw points from to wow your audience. If you are tasked with presenting an unfamiliar subject area, with little or no time to prepare, this is the knowledge you can leverage on to deliver effectively by obtaining additional knowledge on your audience composition and the presentation purpose (to sell, advertise, research, social etc.), with which you can tailor your approach to achieving the desired results.
Every successful presentation boils down to this. After using both base and updated knowledge to design a pitch, you need to pay the most attention to this area in order to deliver your presentation successfully. I use to say an effective presentation requires 1% knowledge and 99% practice, because of the benefits of practicing and doing it out loud, from experience. Constant practicing helps you internalize your subject area instead of memorizing it. It can help you discover flaws in your designed material and better streamline the flow in your delivery. If you are just starting out as an entrepreneur or your new role requires frequent presentations to superiors in your organization, this is one area you want to get used to doing, at least thrice before you present to the real audience and remember to always practice out loud. It will help you avoid common presentation problems such as nervousness, trepidation, speaking flaws, reduced energy levels, long speeches etc. It is important to practice alone and also in front of an organized number of people. The latter helps you in bringing the future presentation environment into the present and to gauge your performance with live feedbacks on areas you need to tidy up before the big event. With practice, you can also work on elements of a successful presentation such as posture, voice levels and pace, eye contact, interactions, engaging presentation materials, introduction and closing.
In conclusion, here are additional tips you need to know:
- A combination of base knowledge, updated knowledge and practice can help you deliver 100% on your next speaking engagement.
- Don’t rely too much on just the base knowledge. You still need updated knowledge sometimes to deliver your points effectively and in a manner that drives the much-needed results and vice versa.
- You will always need one of these areas to avoid wasting people’s valuable time or the disappointment that comes from poor presentation. Even if you are an expert in public speaking, you still need to update yourself before every speaking opportunity.
- If you don’t have enough base knowledge in an area you have to speak on, get updated knowledge as much as you can and know the purpose of the presentation. Try to establish common grounds with your area of specialization (base knowledge) and deliver a speech from that perspective. For example, I can use my expertise in developing an idea into a website product for the fashion industry to deliver an effective presentation on “Idea conceptualization and mobile app development for the retail industry” by getting an updated knowledge on the retail industry and finding common grounds.
- Read more on posture, voice levels and pace, eye contact, interactions, and other elements of a successful presentation here so you can perfect them when practicing.
Good luck as you prepare to nail that next presentation. I look forward to your feedbacks.