As a sales or marketing professional, presentations are simply a part of everyday life. Whether pitching a product or setting a new strategy, your presentation is a tool to help you sell.
Your audience may be a client, your boss, or another team in your organization – whichever it is, you need to create a presentation that will get them to align with your agenda. Sometimes, it can be quite a challenge…
In order to help make sense of the process, I like to use the concept of the 3Ps (and not the usual 4Ps or 7Ps of marketing you’ve probably heard of).
The 3Ps of presentations are Preparation, Presentation, and Post-Meeting, and they cover the entire lifecycle of the presentation – from development to delivery, to follow up.
Want to rock your next presentation? Here are 22 helpful tips from my own experience, both as a presenter and as a participant, divided into the 3Ps. So let’s start at the beginning:
- Define 1-2 goals you want to achieve in the meeting. A meeting without actionable’s is like a ship without a sail. You can’t get to where you’re going without knowing your destination and how to get there.
- Try to see things from the perspective of the audience. Find out everything you can about their agenda and interests. Ask yourself the question: “What’s in it for them?” and develop your presentation accordingly.
- Conduct brief, preliminary research about the people participating in the meeting. You can do this by checking their social profiles (LinkedIn/Facebook), and go over previous correspondence to see if you can glean any interesting or important information. Knowing your audience is the best way to know what “persona” you should project.
- Tailor the presentation to your audience in terms of content, depth of detail, technical level and more. Make sure you are speaking the ‘language’ of the participants, so they everyone understands you perfectly.
- Practice, practice, practice! Make sure you know the pitch fluently, and that you have mastered control of the presentation’s flow. Each slide should have a purpose and an important and coherent point. Ask a colleague or friend to let you practice on them.
- Always follow best practices! There are plenty of tried-and-tested ways to create the best possible professional presentation. Check them out here.
- If you have a roadshow pitch, be sure to update it regularly and even change it occasionally. It’s important to keep it fresh, so you can avoid sounding stale or – even worse – burning out.
- Make sure to check and double check all the technical aspects of your presentation. Is the video playing properly? Do you have the right adaptors to connect your PC? It’s always best to come super-prepared. It would be a shame to mess up a great presentation because of an overlooked technical detail.
- Don’t be late! Make sure to arrive early enough to set up your presentation without undue pressure. On the other hand, don’t show up too early. You don’t want to inconvenience your host or audience.
- People love hearing themselves talk; that’s just human nature. Besides, it’s hard to stay focused for an hour or more listening to a monologue, so break up the time with audience interaction. Encourage debate and discussion. Ask leading questions, offer quizzes and invite people to share their opinions. Lead the audience to articulate your conclusion. A message is always conveyed better when a person says it for themselves.
- Keep it interesting. Use humor, personal anecdotes, ‘wow’ facts, statistics or anything else that might pique the audience’s interest. In the end, it’s all about making a personal connection with participants.
- People are much more open when they feel accepted. Validate the questions and comments raised by participants. Even the most confident CxO likes a bit of positive feedback now and then.
- Be agile – don’t take a die-hard approach about sticking to the pre-planned flow. If a particular question is asked prematurely, don’t respond with “We’ll get to that later”. Be flexible and take the discussion to the place that interests the people in the room. (Unless of course, they are totally off point. Then you can gently steer the presentation back on course.)
- Be relevant. Don’t settle for generalities. Use examples and case studies that the specific audience can relate to. People appreciate it when they feel you’ve done your homework and tailored the presentation to make it interesting for them.
- Be a pro. Convey a sense of confidence and authority. That doesn’t necessarily mean having all the answers. But it does mean that you are able to find the right answers and come back to the audience with the information they want.
- Pay attention to everyone in the room. Sometimes when presenting, we tend to focus on one or two people, but it is important to make every participant feel included. The best way to do this is by making eye contact.
- Be prompt and practical. if you happen to finish before schedule, don’t fill the time just for the sake of it. Finish a bit early – the participants will appreciate the unexpected free time in their schedule. And whatever you do, do not exceed the time allocated to you. It will just inconvenience the audience.
- Bonus! Don’t show up empty handed. Even the smallest giveaway can be a great ice breaker and will be appreciated by the audience. Also, don’t refuse a glass of water or coffee if offered to you. This is a gesture of hospitality, and it is polite and appropriate to accept it.
- Make it easy for participants to be in touch with you. Leave a business card, and add your email address to the final slide of the presentation.
- Send out a summary up to 24 hours after the presentation. Compliment the participants on their contribution to the meeting. If necessary, make sure to include clear action items and assign them to the person in charge of each task.
- If you were assigned tasks or questions that require follow up, be sure to get it done within 48 hours.
- If objectives weren’t met, send a follow-up email a week after the meeting to further clarify.
They say that good things come in threes. That’s definitely true when it comes to presentations. The 3Ps – Preparation, Presentation, and Post-Meeting – is an effective approach to managing the entire process, making sure every aspect of your presentation, from initial idea to final follow-up, is fully optimized.
So next time you need to give a presentation, follow the 3Ps and the 22 tips above. You’ll be that much closer to achieving your aims.