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Present like a professional

Bronia Szczygiel and Liz McKechnie

Present like a professional

Want to give presentations that pack a punch? Bronia Szczygiel and Liz McKechnie from Aspire Leadership share their top tips

So first off – are presentations all about PowerPoint?

No. Visual aids can be helpful, but make sure you’re actually presenting something interesting.

If you do use slides, don’t neglect to tell your audience the point of the slide when presenting it – you should be able to tell your audience exactly why each slide is interesting, or it shouldn’t be there.

Again, don’t include everything you’re going to say on a PowerPoint slide or you may as well have just given people handouts.

Visual aids also aren’t the only way to get through to people. Some people learn kinesthetically (by touch)– which means using props can be effective.

Others learn aurally, through hearing examples, while some are visual. Remember that you’re in control of your presentation, so you can use a mix of all three.

What one thing do we need to remember when planning a presentation?

That you are the presentation, not the technology. People respond to other people.

Personality is the most important thing to get across when presenting. Most people have a telephone voice, a different aspect they present when in meetings. Show off the different aspects of your personality.

Everyone’s personal style is different and there are no hard and fast rules for a good presentation. Find and adapt your own style – if you try to copy someone else’s style and it just isn’t you, you risk falling flat on your face.

A powerful presentation is all about how you make your audience feel. Use metaphors and anecdotes, not just information 

Is storytelling in presenting important?

A powerful presentation is all about how you make your audience feel. Use metaphors and anecdotes, not just information.

Human beings respond to stories about other human beings, whether that’s talking about someone in your team who’s achieved something, or using outside examples. It’s much more interesting for people when you bring your presentation to life.

What’s your one top tip for catching people’s attention?

Start with the interesting stuff. The boardroom can be a boring and stressful place, so you have to make the time you’re taking worthwhile.

Kick off with the most exciting, interesting and surprising content to capture people’s attention. Engage with your audience, focus on the relevance of the information you’re presenting and on why you’re there.

How do you handle nerves?

Breathe – it’s one of the most important things you can do to reduce nerves and something people often forget.

In the sports industry, people have different ways of preparing for their events. Our Olympic athletes still get nervous, but they harness that energy both mentally and physically.

Find out what works for you pre-presentation, whether that’s pacing up and down or having a last minute run through. Different techniques work for different people, so try a few out and find your own thing.

We produced an e-learning module for handling nerves on the Open Sesame website, which includes some great tips. Get your presentation under control rather than letting it control you.

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