Anytime you want to convince anyone of anything, you are engaged in a presentation. You do not have to be standing in front of a large crowd with a big screen behind you to be delivering a message. Successful presentations always have the same elements:
1. They are completely focused on the audience and designed to address their wants and needs. Too many times, presenters focus only on delivering information about themselves and their companies and often fail to really personalize the experience for the audience. Remember, both parties agreed to share their time and you were invited to demonstrate a solution. Make sure you also demonstrate what your audience needs a solution for.
2. The objective and focus of the presentation is clear and concise. Some presenters go into a presentation and leave their audience wondering “what just happened”, “what did he just demonstrate”. This is not good. Your job as a presenter is to be clear about what you want your audience to get from your presentation and what message you would like them to leave with. A great way to accomplish this is to make a bid bold promise in the beginning of your presentation to frame what you are going to tell them about. Another way is to ask a big question and leave your audience on the edge of their seats waiting to hear the answers in your presentation.
3. They have the right amount of information and the presenter is skilled at anchoring those key messages into the brains of the audience. Too many times presenters try to jam all of their content, information, data, charts, numbers and graphics into every presentation regardless of time and objective. This is a mistake and will result in information overload. Use a rule of thumb to structure your presentation. For example, if you use 1 key message for every 10 minutes, you would stay to 3 key messages or objectives for a 30 minute presentation.
4. They are engaging and entertaining. The best presentations leave the audience energized and awake. When I think of an engaging presenter, I think of Steven Jobs of Apple Computers. If you get a chance, go to Apple’s website and watch one of his powerful presentation. Nothing will kill a presentation more than a boring presentation. The human brain needs to be re-engaged every 6 to 8 minutes, so think of ways to keep your audience engaged. Change your voice, walk around, use visuals and emphasis as tools.
5. They use visual aids as a tool to enhance their message and add value to their presentation. A big mistake some presenters make is to use too many visual aids and fancy PowerPoint slides. This is not necessary. The best presentations have minimal bells and whistles and really focuses on an experience using visual aids to reinforce your message, not control it.
6. They always close with a recap and an understanding of what is expected of the audience. Call it a call to action, the close or next steps, a successful presentation always ends with a clear understanding of what to do next. Do not leave your audience questioning how they can get more information, or engage your services, be clear and be direct.