1. Ignore the fear
- Butterflies schmutterflies – picture yourself climbing Mount Everest or taking the winning penalty in a World Cup final shoot out. There is no possible outcome except total and complete victory!
2. Focus on the audience
- It’s not you – it’s them! They are earnestly salivating as they wait to be blown away by your riveting insight. Focus on that even though you constantly feel like going to the toilet despite having been four times in the last half hour.
3. You’re not the Prime Minister
- This isn’t Prime Minister’s Question Time! The future of the free world does not depend on whether you say, “the weight of rages will press down hard on businesses,” or, “The rate of wages will press down hard on businesses,” so remember that if you’re worried about up……mixed……words………getting……..your.
4. Less is more
- Nerves can make you over compensate when presenting causing you to give the audience more than they actually need. Unless you’ve expressly agreed beforehand to recite every chapter of the old and new testaments – it’s probably best to stick to the essentials of the topic under discussion.
5. It’s an opportunity
- ………not a witch hunt. Your audience won’t place you in medieval stocks and throw rotten food at you if things don’t go exactly to plan (we hope!).
6. Anchor Yourself
- Maintain a positive mind state by recalling moments that made you feel happy. Take yourself back there and try to remember how good it felt (round the back of a nightclub, 2008, by the wheelie bins, someone’s hand fumbling around in your underwear for example).
7. Practice, practice, practice
- Rather than using up valuable energy worrying about the presentation, invest your resources in some good old fashioned practice – the mother of skill and competence.
8. Everybody loves a good story
- Human beings are able to assimilate much larger amounts of information when we’re taken on an emotional journey via story format. Somehow therefore, you’ll need to be able to turn market share, profit and loss, revenue and cost into a tale about a boy wizard and his struggle against a megalomaniac purveyor of dark magic.
9. Use picture as well as scripture
- Densely packed presentation slides full of text are the visual equivalent of farting on a first date. They may decide not to run away in disgust – but only if there is something wrong with them. Use images to create enough variation to keep an audience sufficiently enthused.
10. Get the crowd involved
- You probably don’t need to go as far as hip-hop style call-and-response crowd-hyping, but the best way to keep your audience engaged is to get them involved in the conversation by asking questions and prodding their imaginations a little bit.
11. Video made the presentation star
Even the most silver-tongued of orators can’t go wrong with a few video clips peppering their presentation here and there. Just be sure to keep them short and relevant – so holiday selfie footage or the Wimbledon 2010 tennis match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, which broke the record for the longest professional game in history at a length of 11 hours and five minutes would be ill advised.
12. It’s all in the voice
- Nigel Mansell, Steve Davis, John Major – they all have it. ‘It’ is of course that rare ability to cure insomnia using nothing more than the human vocal chords. If you want to keep your audience engaged, entertained and ultimately persuaded by your presentation, do what the aforementioned don’t do and vary the pitch, tone, volume and pace of your delivery.
13. Make friends
- Ultimately you need to have your audience on side when presenting so it’s a good idea to make friends with them – if you can! Find things you have in common and discuss them, but perhaps hold off from asking people to lend you money until after the presentation is over.
14. Know your stuff
- You won’t be able to convince an audience of the authority of what you are saying if you don’t know what you are talking about yourself. Therefore phrases like, ‘um,’ ‘erm,’ and ‘mmm-I-I-I-I-I’ doth not a great presentation comprise.
15. Know your audience
- It’s perhaps not best to do your presentation in Arabic if you’re audience is a room full of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. Do your homework and get to know your audience’s background, beliefs, values and feelings beforehand.
16. Be Generous
- This does not mean turning up at your presentation with an offer of cash to anybody that doesn’t leave the room upon hearing that you’re about to present to them for half an hour, but it does mean that well delivered eye contact, smiles, passion and energy go a long way to making your audience feel obliged to give you a chance and by extension – their valuable time.
17. Show Contrast
- It’s no good doing a marketing presentation that shows that if the company spends an extra £1 million, sales will remain exactly the same. You need to make it easy for the audience to see the benefits of a new idea by showing incremental gains and if you can do it without lying that’s even better!
18. Give a good reason
- If I support Manchester City, I’m going to need a pretty darn good reason to purchase a Manchester United season ticket and your presentation is no different. If you want your audience to change its behaviour, you need to give them a good reason to do so.
19. Walk in their shoes
- You might not be able to start your presentation with this week’s winning lottery numbers, but you can give your audience help by understanding their problems and using that as the basis for your presentation. Incidentally last week’s lottery numbers were 8, 11, 16, 22, 25, 31 and 32 – so if you have all of those you won’t need to turn up to do the presentation anyway!
Our editor has it so finishing at number 19 is more trouble than it’s worth…….