NEVER discount the benefits of powerful presentation skills.
Some people may only get a few minutes of fame at a major meeting in front of the senior bosses - but this is where effective presentation skills are critical.
The bosses are looking at how you handle the presentation and any questions that follow.
The image of your success or failure remains in their minds for a long time. Ability without visibility accounts for little if you want to be noticed.
Here are nine ways to ensure that your presentations are powerful:
1 Meet objectives
What do you want your audience to know, feel and do?
Be very clear about this in your mind and put it on paper. Refer to these points constantly when planning your presentation and just before your deliver it.
Your success will be measured against whether you met the objectives of the presentation.
2ï¿½Know your audience
It is important to find out who your listeners are and what they really want and need.
Then decide what is the best way to reach out to them with your message. You want it to be relevant to them.
3ï¿½Less is more
Simplify your visuals and your messages. With less clutter, the audience will know what to focus on.
Each slide in your presentation should not have more than one theme. Avoid fussy animation and fancy fonts - they are a distraction.
Provide information in smaller, easy-to-digest portions. Your listeners will retain what you have said better, and chances are, they will stay with you till the end of the presentation.
4ï¿½Tune in to WIIFM (What's in it for me?)
The audience is there for a reason. You must make it worth their while.
Your presentation must not be a "nice to have". It needs to be relevant and useful to those who are present.
For example, if your topic is customer service, slant it with a people development angle if you are talking to human resource professionals, and discuss its business implications if you are presenting to financial staff.
5ï¿½Everybody loves a story, a quote and a good laugh
Stories, especially first-person experiences, add human interest and colour to your presentation. They help you create a rapport with your audience, especially if you use some humour. When you win over the audience, they are motivated to listen to you.
6ï¿½Watch your body language and throw your voice
Your body language is sending signals all the time. Stand tall and project your voice, and your audience will respond to you.
The interesting thing is that your emotions are taking the cues from your physical self. Adjust your posture and gestures and watch your confidence grow.
Have a physical rehearsal, not just a mental one. Practise in front of a friend, colleague, family member or even your dog!
Practise telling the stories, the key messages and allow for pauses after you make certain statements. Test any equipment and go through your slides.
8ï¿½Involve the audience
Ask your listeners for a show of hands, or throw them a question that is rhetorical - it makes them think immediately if you allow for a pause - or one that warrants an answer.
They can also huddle in a group and share later. Make them active participants. Don't forget to connect with their emotions. You are not just delivering information.
9ï¿½Believe in yourself
You must believe that you have something of value to share with the audience. You must believe in yourself and your message.
It's in your handsï¿½
If you want to be a "Power Presenter" who delivers impactful presentations each time, it takes sheer discipline and focus. Never try to do it without preparation. The key is to do your homework and rehearse thoroughly.
Your confidence will show, and the audience will respond to it and be engaged. Your success is in your hands.