It is hard to be an excellent marketer if you have trouble presenting your thinking. After all, ideas are our product and the presentation is our packaging. You want your brilliant idea to be delivered in an equally brilliant package. So, how do you deliver a great presentation each and every time you are required to?
Here are seven tips based on my career experience and counsel provided to me along the way by various mentors. Hopefully, they will help you be even more successful at your job and, if applied, result in more approvals to move forward with rather than rejections of your ideas.
Seven Proven Presentation Tips
- Don’t give too much detail.
- A presentation is not a license to try and demonstrate how smart you are.
- Don’t give 10 reasons why you should do what you are recommending. If you can’t sell your idea with no more than three reasons, then the recommendation is fatally flawed to begin with.
- Answer the question that was asked.
- If you didn’t understand the question, clarify it.
- Repeat the question to buy time to think and clarify your understanding.
- Don’t allow a question to take you too far off on a tangent. Answer the question and then get back on track.
- Seek first to understand rather than defend. If you don’t you may miss the nuance of the question (aka the real question behind the actual question asked.)
- Don’t cram too much information in your charts or on a talk sheet.
- Don’t encourage your listeners to read complex charts, data tables, or handouts.
- Don’t get Management side tracked by sharing non-relevant information.
- Highlight the most important things if a chart cannot be simplified.
- Be responsive.
- Know your listener’s information requirements.
- Watch body language. If heads are nodding, move on.
- Be flexible and open-minded. It is good to have personal conviction, but it is not a game of being right or wrong. It is a game of getting to the best solution.
- Do the basics and do them well.
- Thoroughly understand your subject.
- State the objective of the meeting up-front so people know why they are there. I always like to start every meeting with the phrase – “The purpose of this meeting is …”.
- Lay out a roadmap for the meeting to set expectations.
- Always summarize next steps.
- Never bluff. “That is a very good question. I don’t know the answer, but I will find out and get back to you”, is a reasonable response. If you bluff and are wrong (or get caught bluffing), you destroy your personal credibility.
- Always be consistent with prior presentations. If your data or conclusion is different, take the time to explain why.
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