As a busy and successful entrepreneur, there are times when you must give presentations, even if you secretly hate them. In nature, all eyes being on you rarely translates to anything good, and so most of us are hardwired to fear and avoid this scenario.
However, presentations are sometimes necessary, particularly in the business world. Maybe you need to introduce your company to potential investors or buyers, or you’re going through a merger. Perhaps you’re pitching products or introducing a new product line. Or maybe you’ve been invited to speak at a conference or a similar event on your subject of expertise. In all of these situations, you’ll have to overcome any anxieties you may have about presenting to a group, for the good of your business.
With that in mind, here are some factors that you should be mindful of.
Visuals: Photographs, charts, drawings, and tables can all be used to great effect, and will enhance your presentation. The advantage of visuals is that they appeal directly to the audience’s imagination, and they’re better at connecting to people’s emotions through their right brain. So, if you have a stunning photograph that gets your message across, or if you have a knack for making great charts and graphics, (or if you know someone who does), then definitely make use of them. Also make use of the 10/20/30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, and 30-point fonts. Adding colour cues, such as using red for wrong, green for right, yellow and black for danger, etc., also helps to impress your message in the audience’s mind. And when appropriate, use visual timelines, which make dates and events much easier to understand and remember.
Speaking points: The best presentations don’t hinge on stylistic flourishes but rather on a true and authentic connection to your audience. This requires you to be clear about your message, and your message to have substance and integrity. Ask yourself: what do you want your audience to remember from your presentation? Then find the emotional component of that message and focus on it.
Attire: Your clothes and appearance are important. While a presentation isn’t a fashion show, investors, for example, feel more comfortable working with a well-groomed person as opposed to a disheveled one. Dressing well implies other things about a person’s character and business acumen: that they have things generally under control, that they have good judgement, that they’re organized, and that they pay attention to detail. It’s also a good rule of thumb to dress slightly better than your audience.
Body language: Social psychologist Amy Cuddy recommends holding a power pose at key moments in life when outcomes are crucial. A presentation can very well be one of those moments. According to her research, adopting body postures associated with dominance and power (“power posing”) for just two minutes can raise testosterone levels, lower cortisol levels, increase appetite for risk, and improve performance in high-stress situations like job interviews.
Calming nervousness: Practicing your presentation, both alone and in front of people, will ensure that you’re calm and ready on your big day. You can also visualize a successful outcome. Another tip is to convert your fear into enthusiasm. Tell yourself that you’re excited and pumped rather than nervous and afraid.
Storytelling: Tell stories, but also let your presentation become the story. Memorable presentations give their audiences a new lens through which to see the world. See your presentation as a journey your audience is accompanying you on. Where do you want to lead them? What realizations do you want them to come to?
Giving a presentation could be a crucial moment for your business. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to prepare yourself more effectively and improve your chances of success.
Nezha Boutamine | Contributing Writer