The good news: 2013 was a good year for most businesses.
The bad news: Most business presentations delivered in 2013 still sucked.
Whether it’s an investor pitch, an elevator pitch, a customer update or an important sales presentation, here are five ideas to help make your presentations remarkable in 2014:
1. Engagement – Most presenters are content experts. Great presenters focus on engagement as much as they focus on content. Your audience wants more than just good content. They want you to be interesting. They want more than the same old boring business presentation. Interactivity, stories, examples and anecdotes are all engagement tools that will enhance your presentations.
2. Better slides – Not more slides, not more stuff on your slides, just better slides. Effective slides have limited text on them and can be consumed in seven seconds or less. Your presentation should not be an attention-seeking competition between you and your slides. It’s often said that many presenters are at their best during the Q&A because they’re not handcuffed by a slide. Think about that the next time you’re trying to get your slides to work for you, not against you.
3. Preparation – Just because you’re the PhD, or the senior vice president, or the boss, or the guy with 25 years of experience, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re a good presenter. You need to prepare. Since we were kids, we’ve been told that practice makes perfect. Yet very few of us effectively prepare for our presentations. Preparation leads to a smooth verbal delivery and seamless coordination with your slides.
4. Brevity – Maybe your audience should be as interested in your presentation topic as you are. But they’re not. Make your presentation consumable. Stick to three or four clear and concise points the audience will understand and remember. Nobody ever said, “That was an okay presentation, I just wish it was longer.”
5. Delivery – If you look bored and sound bored while delivering your presentation, you will bore your audience. Think about how to strategically use your feet, your hands, your eyes and your voice. Meaningful physical delivery matters to your audience. It shows them you’re experienced, comfortable, and confident.
Whether we like it or not, our credibility is on the line each and every time we present. 2014 will give us many opportunities to take our presentation game to the next level.
Anil Dilawri is the Managing Director of Save it like Sully, an executive presentation training and coaching company with clients across Canada. He tweets @SaveitlikeSully.
Image: Michigan State University