The key to Presenting effectively is to know your audience.
This is why Presentation Skills is so closely linked with Communication Skills.
As with everything there are certain technical skills and rules of engagement that accompany good presenting. However before utilising those skills or rules it is vitally important that you understand who it is that you are dealing with, in order to understand how to relate with them, and how to win them over.
But to understand your audience means to pay attention to their mannerisms – the words they use, body language, and their facial movements. It is impossible to do this if your eyes are glued to the projector / computer screen during the whole of your presentation.
I’m sure you’ve come across such people before. In-fact let’s be honest, most of us, at some point in time have been that person. You know the one – he/she storms into the meeting room determined to make an excellent presentation – with no mistakes, no hesitations, no uncomfortable pauses, and not to be caught out. Admirable though such intentions are, the problem is that their determination to make no mistakes often leads to them not only rushing through their presentation but also being so focused on not being caught out that all they can think about is ‘I must not be caught out. I must not be caught out. I must not be caught out.’
The outcome is a hurried presentation with little or no attention paid to the audience in front of them, resulting in a complete disconnect between presenter and audience.
Remember – the objectives are ;
- Show them what you’ve got
- Show them that what you’ve got is great
- Show them that what you’ve got can address their needs
- Show them that you are the right person / company to do business with
Many presenters begin by focusing purely on the top two – show what you’ve got, and that what you’ve got is great and spend very little time, if any at all on points three and four.
The irony is that it is points three and four that are most important.
Think about it this way – if they didn’t think that what you’ve got is pretty good, you wouldn’t be presenting to them in the first place.
So now you’re there – right in front of them. It’s time for you to try to get to know who you’re dealing with and what their priority needs are. Ask questions as you present. Encourage them to ask you questions; in other words carry them along. By doing this you are creating rapport as well as getting to know the characters in front of you. And it is by so doing that you are able to know which areas of your presentation to spend more time on.
But to be able to effectively do all of the above there is something that you must have in abundance – KNOWLEDGE – inside-out knowledge about everything relating to your product /service – from the founding fathers of the company to those of your top five competitors, to performance of companies in your sector, even those of your sector in other countries. Going into a presentation knowing that you know pretty much everything there is to know about your product / service / sector / company / competitors gives you great confidence and enables you to relax in order to be able to pay more attention to your audience.
Don’t copy other people’s styles. Yes, there are some dos’ and don’ts but that doesn’t mean we should all be copying each other like robots. You were born the way you are for a reason. Be true to yourself and use your own strengths; not those of other people.
Dominate Your Stage
Remember, the average human being is a bully, looking for someone to devour. Once he or she smells nervousness or fear they will be all over you like a rash.
The stage is yours, nobody else’s.
Don’t cower in it.
Seize the stage and dominate it.