10 ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills in the workplace.
Presentation skills are the most important factor when it comes to success in any workplace, and especially so in sales. Some people are born with them naturally, but everyone can learn how to present themselves better. It’s all about practice, so let’s get started!
1) Know your audience:
First things first, you need to know everything about the people you’re going to present to, especially their company. You should know the market they are in, what kind of business they do and how many employees work for them. If possible, you should know something personal about each person in your audience. This might be something related to their job or maybe even where they went to college. If you think the latter might be too personal, it’s not. People love to talk about themselves and their achievements, so asking them about where they went to college will get the conversation going. And of course if they’re ex-colleagues of yours or both went to the same university all the better!
2) Know your material inside out:
Once you know your audience, it’s time to figure out the best way to present them with what they need. And remember – if you don’t know what you’re talking about or weren’t involved in the research process itself, all of this might seem like a waste of time. This brings us back to rule number one; knowing everything there is to know about your audience, from what they sell and their company’s statistics to knowing where they went to school.
Once you do this, you’re ready to present yourself with your material – but wait a minute! Have you prepared a PowerPoint presentation? If not, find out why creating one might be the key factor in improving your presentation skills and securing that promotion.
3) PowerPoint: the presentation app you didn’t know about:
PowerPoint isn’t just used to make presentations anymore; it’s become an invaluable tool for improving your skills in the workplace, such as presenting yourself to potential employers (job interviews), pitching business ideas or even simply messaging clients about next steps in a project. For example, if you are in sales, your PowerPoint presentations will play a big part in closing deals. You can use them to present yourself and your company’s products/services to potential customers which are crucial for any business – especially so when it comes to trying to win new clients over.
4) Make it interesting and fun:
You’ve got all your facts and figures ready, the PowerPoint presentation is done but what next? It’s great that you know everything about your audience, their company, market position etc., but are you delivering this to them in an interesting way? Remember – nobody cares about your company as much as you do. You didn’t come here to read a boring list of statistics and facts; we came to see you present them in an engaging and fun way. This means – NO PowerPoints! Currently, there is a movement away from PowerPoint presentations as the best way of doing things.
5) Tell a story:
People don’t remember statistics or lists of numbers, but they do remember stories. Whether it’s your sales pitch, your presentation to potential employers or even just sending a message on LinkedIn- tell them a story! It doesn’t have to be complicated, try comparing yourself to the hero in some movie and make each statistic like an obstacle which you have to overcome. It’s fun, it’s different and most importantly- people remember stories.
6) The best thing about great presentations? They don’t take long:
The whole point of giving a presentation is to get your ideas across in the shortest amount of time possible. If you’ve followed these steps, delivering an interesting and engaging presentation will only take you around 15-20 minutes at most. Not only will this save you time but it will also save you the embarrassment of speaking incoherently for more than half an hour at a time.
7) Practice makes perfect:
Even if you think your presentation is top notch, it has to be practiced. This means practicing in front of friends and family- anyone who will give you honest feedback without sugarcoating anything. And remember – you can’t please everyone, so take negative comments with a pinch of salt. Everyone is different and what might lose one person’s attention might win over another- practice makes perfect!
8) Be prepared for anything:
You’ve got your company strategy ready; you know everything there is to know about your audience, their company and the market they’re in. You’ve got your PowerPoint presentation ready but no matter how much you prepare, there will always be that one person who asks the question you didn’t expect or one of your statistics which makes absolutely no sense. This is just one of those things; prepare yourself for what’s ahead by knowing everything possible about your subject- it helps to reduce the stress!
9) Don’t sweat the small stuff:
Even if you’re prepared for anything, there will still be that one thing which completely throws you off course. This is normal and just part of the job- don’t let it get to you! You might stutter or not know what to say next but it happens to everyone, so just relax and move on. It’s nothing a few sips of water won’t fix- the audience will never know!
10) Keep your cool:
You had a technical malfunction with one of your slides or you suddenly can’t speak up as loudly as usual? This is not the end of the world- keep your cool! Take a deep breath, smile and pretend nothing happened. If you’ve practiced your presentation enough times then there won’t be any noticeable difference in delivery- just keep going.
Bonus Tip: It’s time for Prezi
Prezi is a concept that has been around since the back end of 2010 and was created by Peter Halacsy, but it didn’t really take off until 2012. The Prezi app has a lot to offer in terms of improving your presentation skills including using different paths or “trails” to connect different scenes/slides together. This means you can create new scenes as the audience moves from one to the next, for example. Or if a presentation is taking too long, you can simply skip ahead. You don’t have this option with PowerPoint – a major reason why Prezi has taken off so quickly and is now seen as an essential tool in the workplace.
Prezi’s Brainstorm feature:
Another useful thing that comes with Prezi is its brainstorming feature; you can create bubbles and links to show how one topic or idea goes hand-in-hand with another. This could be for a sales pitch, convincing potential investors to part with their cash (see the example) or simply moving from one topic to another in your presentation.
Type of Prezi:
Prezis come in 3 flavours: Journey, Story and Point. Each suits a specific purpose such as creating an engaging story, taking people on a journey or presenting how something works with Point being ideal for more technical presentations.
Prezi Analysis tool:
What about the audience? Are they finding your presentation engaging? Prezi doesn’t offer you any feedback on this but it does have an analytics tool built in that helps you figure out if people are watching the things you want them to. You can set up what are called triggers that tell Prezi what should happen based on how much of your presentation someone has seen. For example, you could have a welcome scene that appears after the first minute, or maybe an ending scene that comes after they’ve watched half of your presentation.
Prezi for Meetings:
Prezi is not only designed for presentations but works really well for meetings too. You can use it to take people through the course of your meeting, what you’ve done so far and where you’re heading next. This is especially useful if for example; someone is visiting your office or coming over to present something back to you in return (briefing).
While these tips are by no means the only things to remember when presenting to an audience, they are the most important points which should be considered. Whatever happens, try not to let it get you down; stay upbeat and positive at all times. This is your chance to show the world what you’re made of- good luck!