This post contains tools and techniques that can transform a ho-hum presentation into one that will wow your audience. Posted with Permission of Geoffrey James of This is not for the stage but when you are asked to present to win the business

  1. Coin acronyms sparingly. If you must use a complex term frequently, it’s OK to shorten it into an acronym, but don’t turn your presentation into alphabet soup.
  2. Check the setup beforehand. Never assume that the projector or the webinar software will behave. Always try out the setup before your presentation starts.
  3. Build in some breaks. Give your audience time to digest what you’ve said by periodically segueing to a cartoon, video clip, or raise-your-hand poll.
  4. Bring some refreshments. If you’re presenting to fewer than a dozen people, a box of donuts can make even a dull presentation more palatable.
  5. Believe your own message.If you don’t believe in what you’re saying, you can bet your last dollar that nobody else will believe it either.
  6. Begin with a “heart-stopper.”Capture your audience’s attention by making the first slide after the intro spotlight a surprising fact.
  7. Be yourself.When you pose as someone you’re not, your audience will sense the insincerity and assume you’re lying.
  8. Avoid clichés like the plague.Seriously, clichés make both you and your ideas seem canned and unimaginative.
  9. Assume your audience can read.If a slide is self-explanatory, pause and let them read it. If a slide requires comment, do so. Never read a slide aloud.
  10. Adapt to your audience’s beliefs.Human beings fit facts into their beliefs rather than form their beliefs based on facts. You won’t change their beliefs, so don’t try.
  11. Customize your slides.There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” presentation. Every audience is unique, so change your slides to match their needs.
  12. Don’t introduce yourself.Have somebody else at the meeting explain who you are and why you’re presenting.
  13. Eliminate the cheesy animations.For example, using bullet points that “fly” into place makes you look foolish while distracting from your message.
    Young entrepreneurs in a business meeting at the office
  14. Embrace social media.Rather than asking people to stash their phones, ask them to tweet their thoughts. Display the tweets on the screen.
  15. Enlarge your letters. Your slides should be readable from the back of the room. Aren’t sure they’re big enough? Walk to the back of the room and see for yourself.
  16. Eradicate vague generalities.Facts that are quantifiable, verifiable, memorable, and dramatic enhance your credibility. Fuzzy concepts imply fuzzy thinking.
  17. Expunge generation-specific pop culture references.Most millennials won’t get a Seinfeldreference; ditto Baby Boomers with, say, Adventure Time.
  18. Face forward.Your audience does not want to see the top of your head or, worse, your backside. Don’t look down at your notes or turn to see the screen.
  19. Follow the 20/20 rule.Cut your presentation to 20 minutes or less and rehearse your presentation 20 times or more.
  20. Forget all that biz-blab.Buzzwords make you sound pompous, unoriginal, and, well, like a corporate weasel.
  21. Go for the gut.Powerful presentations create strong emotions; dull presentations are abstract and intellectual.
  22. Highlight segments of complex graphics.If a graphic communicatestwo ideas, create two “break out” slides that highlight each respective point.
  23. Hone your message. Cut out irrelevant detailsand include only what you absolutely must say to get your message across.
  24. Identify the next step.Presentations exist in order to help people make decisions. At the end of your presentation, identify and ask for that decision.
  25. Keep it simple, stupid.The more complicated your presentation, the more quickly they’ll forget it. Making it simple helps make it memorable.
  26. Know why you’re presenting.When creating a presentation, don’t think about what you want to say. Think about what decision you want the audience to make.
  27. Lose the verbal tics.Don’t use “like,” “uhhh,” “you know,” or “OK?” when you’re thinking of what to say. Just leave a gap; it makes you seem thoughtful.
  28. Make no apology.Never apologize for circumstances outside your control. Apologies make you sounds like a victim. Keep it upbeat.
  29. Mingle beforehand. Arrive well before your presentation to meet audience members and gauge their interests. Tune your presentation to match.
  30. Minimize your own opinions.Make your case using meaningful, emotion-laden facts rather than just spouting your take on the issue.
  31. Neutralize inevitable objections.When you know an objection will surface (like “it’s too expensive”), answer the objection in the body of your presentation.
  32. Never tell a joke. Jokes are hokey; even professional comedians no longer tell them. Instead, make observations that reveal the humorous side of real life.
  33. No slide barrages.If you’re nearing the end of your allotted time, don’t try to cram 25 slides into the last five minutes.
  34. Only backtrack when you must.Clicking back to a slide makes you seem disorganized. Only do it for must-answer-now questions.
  35. Pace yourself. Rule of thumb: the number of slides should match the number of minutes in the presentation.
  36. Prepare your own questions.Have a question or two ready so that the Q&A at the end doesn’t lapse into an uncomfortable silence.
  37. Present when people aren’t distracted.If possible, avoid presenting at the end of workday, just before lunch, or the day before a holiday.
  38. Put “Relax, Breathe & Slow Down” at the top of your notes.These reminders will keep you centred and in control of both yourself and the room.
  39. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.Presentations should never be improvisations. Prepare by rehearsing your talk.
  40. Relevance, relevance, relevance.Only present issues and ideas that are meaningful to your audience. If nobody cares, why are you presenting?
  41. Remain within your allotted time.Continuing to talk after your presentation is supposed to end makes you seem disrespectful and arrogant.
  42. Remove all stock photography.Photos showing models “working” in an ideal office are visual noise. Better no visual at all than something posed and corny.
  43. Respect your audience’s intelligence.Even if you’re the world’s top expert on your subject matter, don’t be snarky about your audience’s relative ignorance.
  44. Select a simple slide design.This keeps the focus on your presentation rather than on the visual background.
  45. Simplify your fonts. A simple, unornamented font (like Arial) makes a slide much easier to read.
  46. Slow down!If your presentation is running long, skip over slides rather than going “motor mouth” to cram everything in.
  47. Speak to individuals. Rather than talk to the whole room, pick successive audience members and address your remarks to each.
  48. Step away from the podium.If you remain behind the podium, your presentation will seem like a lecture.
  49. Stop turning statements into questions.That weird little uptick at the end of a statement makes you sound indecisive. Save it for chitchats.
  50. Take them on a journey.Bring the audience from where they are today to where they’re in the emotional state to make a decision.
  51. Talk TO them, not AT them.Keep your tone conversational rather than formal. Think “dinner party” rather than “lecture hall.”
  52. Tell a story or series of stories. Rather than outlining elements of your subject matter, provide a sequence of events explaining why it’s meaningful.

Professional Speakers

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