Presentation skills: a new way of doing business

Analysis & Insight 27 Aug, 2013 Gemma Platt

Casio’s Gemma Platt tells us why the UK is long overdue a refresh of its business presentation skills.

The nerves. The sweaty palms. The fear of something going wrong. We’ve all been there – awaiting our presentation to the board or to a sceptical potential client. You can make or break a big deal, or even your career, on that one performance. 

The trouble is, most people don’t follow some basic presentation guidelines, resulting in bored audiences. This is despite the evidence that nearly half (49 per cent) of all UK decision-makers are less likely to buy from companies that make poor presentations.

We’re also facing another problem: ever-decreasing attention spans. The internet is allowing us to consume more content and at a faster pace than ever before, but in turn it has cost us our ability to stay focused on one thing for any serious length of time.

If the presenter is boring us, cramming slides with too many words, failing to engage the audience, and their projector keeps cutting out then we all have a mobile phone we can play with – and 60 percent of us have even admitted to openly sending texts of emails during these types of meetings! 

In order to help all of us scrub-up on our presentation skills and help us avoid death by PowerPoint, I spoke to Peter Arvai, the CEO and founder of online presentation tool Prezi. Here are Peter’s top tips to create the perfect presentation:

Use quality tools

Having the appropriate tools can make all the difference. If a presentation is important to you, the tools you choose should be equally important. Make sure you have the right projector, lighting, screen and clicker, and know how to use them before you walk into the room. Before I speak at a big event we find out what computer, projector and screen size is being used.

Use your visuals wisely

If you are using a visual aid, such as a projector and PowerPoint – make sure you know your material. Consider setting a laptop in front of you so you aren’t turning around to reference the screen behind you. Also, be aware of the projector’s light – moving in front of the light too much can be distracting.

Look ways to help the audience engage 

The best presenters adopt a story arc that helps the audience understand the point of the presentation without feeling beaten over the head with it. Look for stories and metaphors no matter what you are presenting. Even the most seemingly dry – and analytical – topics have compelling hidden narratives within them.

Leave on a bang

Make sure your conclusion ties everything up nicely, relating back to the big picture and reiterating any really important points. End with confidence and be careful about trailing off in your tone. “Thank you” along with some hand gesturing towards the audience is a common ending – but don’t be scared to break the mould!

A presentation can be the best way of delivering an idea, but with more than half (56 per cent) of UK business people believing the meetings they attend to be ‘not worthwhile’, we all need to up our game. See what you can do in your next presentation.

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