Five things you can do to become a better presenter

Sylvia Pennington

Do you have the opportunity to showcase your small business before a group? For many folk, glossophobia – fear of public speaking – is a dread more frightening than death.

But presenting with pizzazz can mean the difference between clinching a deal, or starting a productive relationship with a new partner or client, and not.

Here are some tips to ensure you knock the socks off the crowd when you take the floor.

On target

“Why are we here?” should be high on the list of questions you don’t want your audience asking themselves as you strut your stuff. Likely you have just a few minutes to either grab their interest or have them sneaking peeks at the time. To ensure it’s the former, focus on creating and delivering messages that are well structured and directly relevant to listeners’ needs and interests.

Lighten up

It’s a business presentation, not An Evening with Jerry Seinfeld, so it’s unlikely you’ll have your listeners rolling in the aisles as you fill them in on the firm’s latest offering. But a little humour can leaven even the dullest of topics – so aim to entertain as well as inform by inserting a funny story or two or a well-placed joke amidst the facts and figures.

Scripting and practising your presentation in advance can help you engage with your audience.

Easy on the effects

Presentation software such as PowerPoint and Prezi can be used to create visual props with a professional look and feel, but a razzle-dazzle slideshow shouldn’t be the main game. It’s you, not your special effects, that the audience will tune in to, and no amount of zooms, fade-outs or animations can compensate for a presenter who’s not all over their material.

Practice makes perfect

Not sure that you are all over it? While some lucky souls can wing it with aplomb, most do better after a dry run or two, preferably in front of a friend or colleague who’s not afraid to speak up if the umm-ing and ahh-ing is getting out of hand. Scripting and practising your presentation in advance can help you engage with your audience with confidence when the day dawns.

Look the part

Spruiking your services to a suite of suits? Showing up in shorts and a singlet may take the shine off your spiel, however slickly prepared. Conversely, if you’re aiming to win work from a troop of tradies, more casual clobber may be the order of the day. Increase the chance of your presentation hitting the mark by ensuring you look as well as sound the part to the group you’re addressing.

Sylvia Pennington

Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.

Image: _dChris, Flickr Creative Commons license