When we are asked to give a work presentation most people see it as a potential problem. However in most cases it is a chance to improve our career opportunities if planned correctly. A work presentation gives you a chance to shine the spotlight on your personal contribution to the company. The experience has the potential to show you in a positive manner. A work presentation delivered well can impress your work colleagues.
The key to succeeding with your next work presentation is to plan it well. Create a routine that will allow you to relax when you are giving the presentation.Here are the 3 areas that I typically concentrate on when I give presentations.
1) Think About What You What To Achieve
The first area I concentrate on is to understand what I am really trying to achieve with my presentation.
- Know Your Message
Think about the message you are trying to share with your work colleagues. The key to giving a great presentation is to be very clear in your own mind what your message is. What are you really trying to say and does the presentation you are planning to give achieve this. Have you got a strong speech opening and closing that supports this message. Is any part of the structure of your presentation likely to confuse your message?
- Understand Your Audience
Think about your audience and what level if understanding they may have of your subject. Work presentations are often given to multidisciplinary teams who may not have an in dept technical understanding of the subject. In cases like this technical jargon should be avoided. Keep the language you use clear and be careful about using humor that may offend.
- Be Clear With Your Takeaway
I often witness a great work presentation that fails because the speaker forgets to give the audience a clear takeaway message. What exactly do you want your audience to do after they have heard your presentation. If the presentation is only to keep your team abreast of current developments make sure you finish with a strong summary that leaves them in no doubt of the progress being made. If you are trying to influence colleagues to consider a particular course of action, finish with that clear “call to action”. The key is to leave your colleagues in no doubt as to the purpose of your presentation.
2) Work On Your Work Presentation
- Use Visual Aids Sparingly
Just because you can do something does not make it a good idea. Never was this clearer than in use of slides or PowerPoint Presentations. Less is definitely more in the case of slides, a slide should only be included to support the message. Slides that list out what you are saying do not reinforce the message, they only distract your audience from your message. Keep your slides as visual as possible and as impactful as possible.
- Practice And Then Practice Some More
The key to giving a professional presentation is to practice. Nothing makes a person more confident than practicing what they are about to do. Practice is the main key to confidence and I would suggest recording your proposed presentation and getting third party objective criticism that you trust. Remember the most valuable criticism tries to be honest with you, not flatter you.
- Forget The Notes
If possible try not relying too much on your notes. Stick to bullet points when creating notes and definitely do not use a visual presentation as a short cut to knowing your speech. There is nothing more unconvincing than somebody reading text from their visual slides. The more you learn your speech when practicing the less reliant you will be on your notes.
3) What To Think About On The Day Of Your Work Presentation
- Dress To Be Comfortable
I am a great fan of dressing in a way that makes you feel comfortable. However if you choose to wear shorts and a bandana in a room where everyone else is wearing suits you probably will feel uncomfortable. The key is to dress appropriately for the occasion of the presentation. Remember the more comfortable you feel the more relaxed you will be with your work presentation.
- Relax And Learn To Be Calm
You can teach yourself to be relaxed while giving a presentation using relaxation and breathing techniques. The better prepared you are the more relaxed you will feel with your presentation.
- Use Your Stage Area
Every time you give a presentation you may have to use a different environment and venue. Use the area provided to maximize the impact of your presentation. If it is a stage try to keep to the front and engage your audience. If you are not using a lectern do not be afraid to move around and interact with your audience where appropriate. Body language, particularly hand gestures and eye contact can help add another dimension to your presentation. Always try and review your venue in advance, pay particular attention to any audio or visual equipment that may be provided and try to practice with it where possible.
“The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve.”
As you can see I am a big fan of preparation for any work presentation no matter how routine it may be. It is your chance to show your colleagues your ability and why you are an asset to your particular company. However to become very good at presenting you need to be continually improving your skills. You achieve this by asking for and acting upon feedback from your colleagues after every presentation. Also note what went well and where you had problems. Using this information you can try to improve at your next presentation.
Work presentations can be a terrifying prospect for any employee. However if you treat it as an opportunity to shine in the work place and prepare well, you will find with practice and hard work you will develop a worthwhile new skill that is easily transferable into other areas.