5 Life Savings Presentation Skills

The awful truth is, most presentations are terrible. In fact, they suck.

The audience quickly turns off.

Nothing gets through to them.

Nothing is remembered.

Every presenter – even you – knows this to be true, yet the same practices continue.

The executives that I train report they are terrified of other people’s PowerPoint decks – especially the large ones. (The abuse of PP is so overwhelming bad the United Nations is considering banning it as a crime against humanity!)

People are also terrified of passionless people, with monotone voices, droning on and on and on, mistakenly believing that broadcasting a stream of content is the same as communicating? (It’s more like excommunication.)

Well, it’s time to declare that you’re ‘as mad as hell and you aren’t going to take it anymore!’

One presenter at a time, starting with you, we can save the world from presentations that suck by following these five life-saving presentation skills tips.

1) Accept That Your Audience Is More Important Than You Are

Being relevant to, and empathetic with your audience should be your top priority.  It’s essential to creating engagement. No engagement means no communication, and you will have wasted your effort.

You need to think about and reflect upon to whom you are presenting.  What’s required is a little research to understand better the human beings with whom you are attempting to communicate.  What a concept!

Match what you have to communicate with to what you discover to be their needs and concerns. Needs are what they want to move towards, and concerns are what they want to move away from.  You can be sure that listening to you is not currently on their list, so, right up-front, you need to make it clear what’s in it for them if they listen.

You need to be clear on the benefit you’ll promise if they pay attention.

2) Make An Upfront Promise

I’m not talking about your presentation agenda but what’s the benefit, the payoff, if people listen right to the bitter end?

It’s a sad mistake to think you can keep this promise up your sleeve and then reveal it with a flourish in the middle or, even worse, at the end.  Do this and the chances are your audience will finish listening way before you stop talking.

Your up-front promise could be as simple as an overview of what they’ll learn and how they can benefit from knowing that information.   It’s staggering how many presenters fail to take this simple step, so if you do, you’ll be ahead of the pack.

3) Understand Your Passion Points And Talk To Them With Passion

Just because it’s business doesn’t mean you have to stick just to the facts, the logic, and the data!  People will switch off.  Instead, share your passion because it’s soo persuasive.

Passionate people are emotionally contagious!  They engage their audience and hold their attention.  Talk with passion and your audience starts to feel how you’re feeling.  Express your excitement and people will get excited with you. It works for any emotion or feeling that you have.

But, you need to understand what it is you’re passionate about and be prepared to put it on display.  For instance, a CFO reviewing cost-cutting measures could talk with passion about how some of the money saved will fund investment in new opportunities, and that’s exciting!

You can read more about presenting with passion here.

4) Work To A Structure That Works

Whatever you do, resist the urge to create your presentation as it forms in your head.  That could well mean that it’s all over the place!

You need to work to a structure because that’s how you can take the audience on a journey with you.  You have to make ‘the complex simple and the simple compelling.’  Doing this requires more than just having a beginning, middle and end because, although it’s better than nothing, it doesn’t make stuff interesting.

A simple structure that I really like is to identify the key points you want to make and for each one communicate:

1. The What
2. The So What
3. The What Now

The “What” is fairly obvious.  What is the topic, idea or focus of you being there?  What is it that they need to know?

The “So What” element requires you to identify what’s both relevant and meaningful to the audience about the point you raise.  If you can’t identify what that is, it’s not worth mentioning. It’s a great way to filter out content that, if included, would suck!

The “What Now” element adds more power to your argument because you’re making it clear what needs to happen moving forward.

The great beauty of this simple structure is that you can quickly put together a disciplined presentation with little notice.  Especially so when you break from the pack and drastically limit your reliance on PowerPoint.

5) Act Like A Phantom Agent

The Phantom Agents TV series (Japanese) was one of my favourites as a kid, and I loved it every time the head guy said: “Remember we are Phantom Agents, a gun is a last resort!”

Presenters should consider PowerPoint to be a gun and use it as a last resort! Otherwise, you risk killing your audience with boredom.

You’ll be far more engaging, interesting and compelling if you place greater reliance on yourself writing a narrative that brings your story to life.  Write it out, memorise a big chunk of it – use notes if you have to – and rehearse your delivery.

If you want to make a critical point, then use a flip chart or a whiteboard.  Much more interesting!  For an excellent example of how to do it well look up Simon Sinek on YouTube giving his TED talk titled ‘Start With Why.’

And now it’s up to you!

You can break from the pack and become a presenter that really delivers for the audience, your organisation and yourself.  Remember to focus on your audience, make them an upfront promise, communicate your passion points, use the three ‘What’ structure and give PowerPoint a big miss.

If you’re fired up and keen to learn more then here are some relevant articles:


Author Bio – Neil Ross
CEO Groupe Amplify

Neil is a specialist in business presentations, public speaking and interpersonal skills training.  Equipping your executives with tools and techniques to confidently deliver presentations, talks and speeches that inspire, create greater support for change and bring ideas to life – inside and outside of your business. See more here www.groupeamplify.com

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1. You’re Not You… You’re Them: The Audience 2. Make An Upfront Promise… Right Upfront 3. Talk Passionately About Your Passion Points 4. Work To A Structure That Works 5. Unleash Words That Work 6. Use PowerPoint Like Chill Flakes 7. Add Power: Body Language & Tone of Voice

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