i was recently in an internal marketing meeting with one of the higher ups in the firm (when you’re a lvl 2, pretty much everyone is “higher up” than you are..), and â€” not to brag at all, but â€” i nailed it.
while i had some high esteem leaving the conference room, i thought to myself on the elevator: “gee, i sure hope to god i did nail my presentation; i’ve been giving pretty much the same brief for a year now.” Â bringing a new capability to market takes a while, and i’ve probably sold my work to both internal and external stakeholders at least once a month since i started working at booz allen last february. Â that’s certainly no short amount of practice time.
so the other day when i was giving my brief about how we came up with the idea, and how all the different pieces all come together to create a singular picture, about all of the benefits that can come from using this tool, they were the same words that i’ve said a hundred times over. Â that’s where i think the lesson comes in at:
effective presentations start with preparation.
i’ve seen some really horrible presentations before, and one of the things that many of them have in common is a lack of conviction. Â if you’re giving a presentation to a crowd of people, and you’re looking back over your shoulder constantly to your slides â€” or worse yet, reading off of them â€” how can you expect those people to believe in what you’re saying? Â is this product really good? Â is it actually going to make my enterprise better, faster, cheaper, or more efficient? Â because you don’t seem convinced of it yourself.
you need to have, and speak with, conviction.
it is nearly impossible to create a powerpoint in a couple of hours across 2 or 3 days and deliver an effective presentation the next. Â you have to have an intimate knowledge of not only the topic, but what your story is going to be. Â you can only gain this familiarity through preparation.
storyboard your presentation. Â take your slides, print them out, and literally storyboard them. Â move content around to see where it fits best, scrap content entirely that doesn’t add value, and build a story that’s both logical and compelling.
practice your presentation. Â i know it sounds stupid, but having an internal monologue or even talking to the wall will help you prepare. Â you’ll formulate your words ahead of time and end up creating a speech that you internalize and can reproduce when delivering the presentation. Â in addition to cutting down on the number of “but, umms” you have, it will also give you a grasp on the amount of time it will take to give it. Â you already know the subject (or you wouldn’t be giving a presentation on it!), so now is the time to focus on the delivery itself.
don’t listen to other people… kind of. Â if someone says your presentation doesn’t make sense the way it is, then yes, you’re going to want to look into that. Â don’t, however, incorporate their feedback unless it fits your overarching plan. Â remember that it’s your presentation in the end, and you’re the one who has to deliver it. Â if you’re uncomfortable going into a particular sub-topic, or if others suggest that you talk about a topic that doesn’t fit into your overall story â€” then don’t.Â Â it’s ok to say, “i appreciate your feedback, but that’s not exactly what my goal is here.”
so the next time you know that you have to give a presentation, ask yourself one question: do i know my presentation as much as i know the subject?
if the answer is yes, then go out and nail it.