I believe people mess up presentations due to these 3 reasons:
- They miss the point of the presentation.
- They don’t rehearse, and consequently flounder.
- They get stuck on a set routine of delivery.
Let’s nail these one a time, like 3 spies from a certain popular British franchise:
The Bigger Picture
Think like M the strategist, working out what mission has to take place, why, where, when, how and who should execute it. Don’t fall into the usual thinking and do the same old rubbish – take a step back, ask yourself all those questions and consider the objective, the problem that needs solving. Write the material with the audience’s perspective in mind; if you were in their shoes, what you would want to know? (The slide title ‘So What?’ can be pretty useful here.)
What would Q do? Minimise Risk, That’s What
Make things easy for yourself! Get rehearsing pronto and – again – try thinking a little laterally about it: what’s the best way to get this piece across? Be the technician, and work out the best tools for the job. Are you simply using Powerpoint because that’s just ‘what you do’? Is there another medium better suited to grabbing the audience’s attention which is also easier and more fun for you use? (That’s a win-win situation right there, people.) What happens if any of it fails? Is there a medium you could use that’s risk-free? Try something basic like pen and paper or building blocks – you might just stand out as a forward-thinking genius problem-solver* for doing so.
Don’t be wooden and business-like, it’s tedious for your audience. Make it feel fluid and alive. Remember:
- Engage the audience on a human level. Don’t get all formal – have a conversation with them, for goodness’ sake.
- Don’t get hung up on technical issues. If it stops working, DITCH IT.
- Acknowledge problems as they happen. This can be very funny as it diffuses the tension by showing that you’re a.) a flawed human being like everyone else b.) fine with it (if you’re apparently not bothered then they’ll assume it’s not important).
These are the 3 roles that you must adopt for a presentation. If things aren’t working out for you when you speak then you’re probably failing at one, some or all of them.
*Always a good thing.