Yes, the presenting world has changed, and no, it doesn’t look like it’s going back to the “old” live and in-person format any time soon. More likely, we’ll next be navigating presenting in a hybrid format, with some of our audience in person and others attending remotely. No matter what, these five things remain critical to a successful presentation.
AUDIENCE FIRST: Nothing matters more than the audience. They know it, and in order for you to be a successful presenter, you must know it to. From the time you begin creating your presentation you must turn your focus 180°. Focus not on what you want to tell them, what you want them to know, all of your very-important-stuff (which, p.s., they could care less about), but instead, focus on what they care about, what they worry about, and what their knowledge level is in regards to your subject. NOTE: If they don’t think your subject is relevant/urgent/important to them, you must begin by illustrating this relevance/urgency/importance very clearly.
DO THE HEAVY LIFTING: It is not your audience’s job to untangle the spaghetti of your content. Neither is it your job to edit your content for relevance while you’re presenting. This is all stuff you need to do ahead of time. Determine what the main point of your presentation is and stick to it. Organize the content around it, and vigilantly edit for irrelevancy.
BESPEAKING THE AUDIENCE’S LANGUAGE: No, it won’t make you look like a super-smarty-pants subject matter expert to throw around 8 syllable words and insider acronyms. It will only make your audience feel stupid, which feels bad, which has a ricochet effect. Feeling bad needs someone to blame. Who made them feel bad? You did. Now they feel bad about you. Way to go. Nix the jargon words and acronyms and talk to them in language an eight-year-old or eighty-eight-year-old can understand.
MAKE YOUR VISUALS AIDS FOR YOUR AUDIENCE: Your slides should be a synergistic component. They plus you should be exponentially more effective in getting your message across than either of you could alone. No visual should ever be self-explanatory. If it is, then there is no need for you, the presenter. Think “Show and Tell”. Show the visual (chart, graph, icon) and explain to the audience what they are looking at.
PRACTICE OUT LOUD: This is non-negotiable. There is no way to be a truly effective presenter in any format without practicing out loud. In your head does not count. Trust, me, you’ll sound like a genius in your head. Once you actually start clicking and talking, however, it’s a different story. Create the pathways between your brain and your mouth. Practice more than once to get your long-term memory involved as well. Come presentation day you’ll feel confident and well-prepared, and it will show.
No matter how you find yourself presenting; remotely, live and in-person, or a hybrid of the two, follow these five rules and you’ll be NAILING it.