Presentation Tips that go beyond the Whiteboard Easel
Some people look forward to public speaking, while others dread it and find it a nerve-wracking experience. No matter which camp you belong to, there is no better strategy for giving a good presentation than being well prepared. Whether you are presenting at an international conference, running a meeting of just a few people, or delivering a speech, practice and preparation will ensure that you come across as polished and professional.
While you might have an extensive PowerPoint slides at the ready, cue cards printed up, and your best visual aids queued up, you might lack the finesse and skill necessary to really give the best presentation possible. In order to do your level best and make the impact that you desire, you need to go beyond a nice suit and a few visuals on whiteboard easel. These things can help, but they won’t impress your audience or win you the job.
So, what can you do to be a cut above the rest? Here are our top presentation tips to help you captivate your audience.
1. Check your presentation for simple, fixable errors
Whether you are giving a verbal presentation, collecting notes on a whiteboard easel, or clicking between PowerPoint slides, it pays to be meticulous about your accuracy. Don’t overstate your claims – unless you are prepared to be called out by attendees.
On a similar note, make sure that you employ spell check and use a tool like Grammarly on any hand outs or slides that you present. It is shocking to see how many people present materials that include spelling errors and grammar issues. This calls your entire credibility into question.
2. Think outside the box
Of course, you need to consider your audience (see below for more information on this point). There will always be certain audiences that are very traditional, and only want the most simple of presentations. However, most audiences are hungry for something new and bold.
Include breakaway sessions, encourage people to play fun games on a whiteboard easel, include memes in your slides, and even play short YouTube videos or other pop culture clips. This keeps people entertained, and makes them more attentive and alert to what you are saying.
3. Take care of your human needs
Nothing is less professional than having your stomach growl so loudly that other people in the room can hear it. While you might have jitters before your presentation or interview and find it hard to eat, make sure that your stomach is full – but not too full. After all, you don’t want to be logy and sluggish!
If you are a coffee or tea drinker, make sure you don’t skip your caffeinated beverage, but don’t overdo it, either. Rushing to the loo during a presentation is not very professional!
4. Make sure you dress the part
If you are giving a presentation as a part of a job interview, you should be dressed in your very smartest business attire. However, for most presentations you should match your dress to the situation. After all, showing up to a meeting at a video games company wearing a 3 piece suit will only draw guffaws and ribbing.
A good rule of thumb is to try to dress just a slight bit more formally than your audience. Remember, your styling doesn’t stop at your clothing. Your hair should be neatly trimmed and styled professionally, and your shoes should be comfortable yet attractive and well shined. Finally, never forget your antiperspirant! Now is not the time to try a new ‘all natural deodorant’ or go without – sweat stains will tank your presentation.
5. Consider your props, and what you have in your hands
Fidgeting with your clothing, playing with a pen, or carrying a paper cup of coffee – having any of these things in your hands will distract your listener. Otherwise professional presentations can really go downhill when someone is gripping a battered Starbucks cup. Set up a water jug with a clean, simple glass – nothing should draw your viewer’s eye away from your presentation.
6. Don’t leave any detail to chance
Everything you need for your presentation should be prepared and ready to go before you begin. If possible, test your PowerPoint and all audio visual connections, and make sure that your mic is working without loud feedback. You can’t always rely on your internet connection, so make sure you bring along any materials you need on a USB stick.
Similarly, make sure that any whiteboard easel or flipchart that you are using is set up and ready to go – fumbling with your props look unprofessional and unprepared. Choosing a cheap easel will backfire on you – you will spend more time struggling to set it up than you actually do presenting. If you plan to use any hand outs, make sure that they are pre-stapled, stacked, and collated in advance, set up neatly for people to access.
7. Warm up before you take the ‘stage’
You’ve no doubt seen actors and actresses warming up their voices and engaging in improve exercises in order to get ready for their performance. You should do the same! In addition to helping you get over any last minute jitters, you will loosen and limber up your body, and get your posture in shape.
Do a series of vocal exercises, and engage in a series of simple stretches. Getting your body warmed up and relaxed will ensure that your presentation is smooth, more fluid, and more effective overall.
8. Switch your phone onto to silent mode
No one in your audience wants to know how popular you are on social media, or how often you are getting phone calls! Make sure that you have your phone switched onto silent – that includes turning off the ‘vibration.’ Unless you are in truly extenuating circumstances, you should never, ever check your phone or take a call during your presentation.
9. Keep your eye on the clock
Sometimes less is more – and that is certainly the case when it comes to going over time on your presentation. No one wants you to ramble away at them, or take too long to get to your point. If you have told your audience your presentation will be 20 minutes, it needs to fall within a minute or two on either side of that time period.
However, that doesn’t always mean that you should end early. If you are being paid to give the presentation, you need to give your client or employer their money’s worth. To keep your presentation timings on track, practice, practice, and more practice!
10. Know your audience
You can’t write or practice an effective presentation without knowing a lot about your audience. As we mentioned above, it can be a bold move to do something ‘outside the box,’ but you don’t want to miss the mark completely. Do some research so that you can learn about your audience, what they like, what they don’t like, their pain-points, and their areas of expertise. A little bit of research can go a very long way indeed.
11. You’re not a stand up comic
Unless you are giving a presentation on stand up comedy, don’t try to make your audience belly laugh. While a little bit of humour or a few jokes can help to loosen up your audience and endear them to you, don’t go too far with it. Resist the urge to get them rolling in the aisles. Amusing anecdote? Yes. Off-colour jokes or political satire? That’s a firm no.
Get in touch for help with your presentation needs
From whiteboards to easels, flipcharts to blackboards, the team here at Red17 can help you choose the right presentation accessories and supplies. Get in touch with us today – we’re happy to help.