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Presentations Matter - Some thoughts and advice

Presentations matter.

You only get one chance to make a first impression with potential clients and investors, so it is of crucial importance that your presentation is up to scratch. A great presentation can secure you a sale and put your product or service heads above the competition in your audience’s mind. However a bad presentation can very quickly squander your chances of making a good impression and getting your message out there.

There are a number of key areas that should be addressed when you are preparing to give a presentation, spending some time on each area will assist you greatly in creating a presentation that is simple, clear and engaging.

---- Decide on a clear message
First thing is first, you need to decide exactly what information you would need to get across to your audience. You really need to distil the message down to one, two or at most three key points. Your audience can really only take in small amounts of information at any one time, so if you try to tell them absolutely everything... you will end up telling them nothing at all.
Deciding on your message doesn’t have to start by sitting in front of a keyboard and screen, take a nice piece of blank paper, get a coffee and start the presentation planning process from there.

---- Get the slides right,
The chances are you will be using a PowerPoint presentation to compliment your talk. Your slides often form part a potential customer/investor’s first impression of you so your slides can’t be anything but perfect. If used correctly your slides can help bring your presentation to life and aide you in telling the story of your product/service. If used incorrectly your slides can send your audience to sleep, create a bad first impression and ultimately confuse rather than inform.
Some very simple tips to keep your slides effective
• Keep the text to a minimum – We have all had to sit through presentations where the presenter has decided to include – and slowly read through - what looks like the transcript of a short novel on their slides. This is about as close as you will come to actual torture in the workplace. Keep the text to a minimum, you want to be the source of information, the focal point of the proceedings, NOT your slides.
• Wave goodbye to the corporate template – Your slides have limited real estate and taking up various areas of the slides with your logo, strapline, corporate colours and other template related artwork does nothing to aide or enhance the real focal point (you) and the information you are trying to get across (the story).
• Use quality images – They say that a picture tells a thousand words, and there are some really fantastic resources online that can provide you with both cheap and free images that can really help bring your presentation to life. Try to avoid the Microsoft clipart/cliché corporate images at all costs as they are drastically overused and do not help you stand out from the crowd. Try out and for some great material.

---- Practise, Practise, Practise
Adequate practise is the key to any successful presentation. No matter how good you think you are at “winging it” a reasonably small amount of practise can go a long way. The truly great presenters spend countless hours practising before every major presentation they do. This doesn’t mean simply looking over your slides a few hours before the presentation, it means having several full rehearsals of your presentation in front of the most honest colleagues or friends you can find and taking their criticisms on board.
The more rehearsal you do, the more comfortable you will be, and ultimately the better you will perform.

---- Be prepared!
Assume that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. What if your laptop breaks down or the projector is out of action... what will you do? Will you pack up and go home?
Anticipate all possible problems. For example by bringing your presentation on a memory key you can run the presentation off of an alternative computer and by bringing a backup version of your presentation written on flashcards you can continue on even if the electricity cuts out altogether.
Expect the unexpected.

----Don’t be afraid to seek professional help
The chances are that you sought help to build your website and design your brochure and logo among other things. Presentations should be no different. We are not all natural presenters or slide designers but there are numerous professionals that are willing to help you polish your delivery skills and make sure that your visuals stand out and tell your story in a clear and engaging manner.

Remember, presentations matter.

- I hope you found that advice useful, for some more interesting articles on presentations why not check out my blog @ and check out my site to find out all about the presentation services that my business offers.
Discussion started by Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh , on 1439 days ago
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