10 tips for a compelling business presentationBY JOHNNY MCGINLEY
Making presentations and speeches is a daily part of business life in Singapore and indeed throughout the world. The impact of those speeches and presentations in terms of generating new revenue and wealth for the business is of course immeasurable.
Indeed you could argue that the long terms success of any business or business leader is dependent to a large degree on how well they can present. Now more than ever in today’s increasingly competitive world they need to be an engaging and persuasive speaker.
Singapore has traditionally perhaps been seen as being attractive to foreign business executives and entrepreneurs. This is because Singapore tax levels and business regulation are often seen as being attractive to new businesses and entrepreneurs setting up in the country.
But once those businesses set up in Singapore they arguably still need the crucial skill of being persuasive and effective speakers and presenters to generate wealth for both their business and Singapore.
It seems that despite presentations and speeches being a daily part of business life in Singapore and globally many people are still nervous when it comes to delivering a speech or presentation. Recently I have heard several business executives suggest to me that they feel they need to invest more in speech and presentation training for their employees.
So for this month’s feature article in Singapore Business Review I offer exclusively to readers my top 10 tips for delivering compelling and truly effective speeches and presentations.
Tip One: Know and research your audience.
I know this sounds obvious but yet this is still a common mistake that I sometimes see. Know your audience. Specifically, what is their level of knowledge of the topic you are speaking on? Will they understand the terms and any specialist language you may use during your speech or presentation?
Remember just because you are familiar with the terms may not always necessarily mean your audience will be. Also find out in advance what it is they would like to learn or hear from you? These two pieces of information should always serve as the foundation stones of your speech or presentation.
Tip Two: Never overrun your allocated speaking time.
Know how long you are going to speak for and stick to this time. Always rehearse it advance because if there are other people speaking after you, and you run over your allocated timeslot, it may result in them having to be asked by the organisers to shorten their speech to ensure the event as a whole ends on time. That then reflects badly on you and can easily damage your personal and professional reputation.
Tip Three: Setup and test your equipment in advance.
Know what equipment you will need, set it up and test it in advance.
Will you need a microphone or headset if it is a large conference hall for example? Will you need a flip chart if so how many pages? Will you need different coloured pens? Will you need internet access for your speech of presentation? Will you need to bring your own laptop and projector or will the venue have this?
Finally, know how to ensure that the laptop you will be using will not go into power saving mode during your power-point presentation.
Tip Four: Always give your speech a structure.
The best practice structure to effective speeches and presentations consists of an introduction, body and conclusion. In the introduction tell them what you are going to talk about. In the body deliver three key messages using interesting real life case studies to reinforce your key points and messages.
Finally, in the conclusion summarise what you told them and always give your audience the opportunity to ask questions and engage with you.
Tip Five: Write speech cues on small card never paper.
If you are going to use speech cues for your speech and will be using a microphone write on card not paper because paper creates a noisy interference with microphones.
Also ensure that the speech cards are in the correct order in advance. Ideally you do not want them to be bigger than postcard size. This is because any bigger than this may risk them becoming a visual distraction for the audience taking their focus away from what you are saying.
Also try not to constantly read from the speech cue cards, use them merely to prompt you, always focus on your audience with eye contact and not excessively at speech cue cards.
Tip Six: Never turn your back on the audience.
Following on from the last point never turn your back on the audience always face them and make eye contact with them. Your aim is to show that you are an engaging speaker. Learn to read and understand their body language.
Tip Seven: Always stand to the side of flip charts.
If you are using a flipchart stand to the side of it and face the audience when speaking, never face the flipchart with your back to the audience. Use your hands to go from the flipchart to the audience, and back again to convey to the audience when they should focus their attention on the flipchart.
Tip Eight: Avoid having key chains or coins in our pockets.
Avoid having coins or key chains in your pocket on the day of the speech or presentation, they may “jingle” as you move across the floor with your presentation or speech.
This would create an audible distraction for your audience at a time when they should be focusing on the content of your speech or presentation.
Tip Nine: Relax through deep breathing before your speech or presentation.
Psychologically if you are relaxed you will naturally feel more confident. Help yourself to relax by taking 10 slow deep breaths before your presentation or speech.
Also have a jug of water within easy reach during the presentation and this is to allow you time to pause and gather your thoughts when you need to during the presentation. Drinking water also helps lubricate the vocal chords as well for your speech or presentation.
Tip-Ten: Engage with the audience and stimulate their interest.
Don’t be afraid to engage with the audience during the speech or presentation, it will always help stimulate their interest. Make maximum use of your floor space. In particular make use of light humour at appropriate points during the speech or presentation.
This will help the audience build a good rapport with you as well as captivating and maintaining their interest.