I just returned from a conference where I was a guest speaker. I had the honor of presenting during the 4:30 – 5:00pm slot of the conference. The event started at 7:30 in the morning, with the first live presentation at 8:00am. You guessed it, I had a very lively audience, but I planned for it and made some adjustments to my slides that took all of this into consideration.
The first tip of a successful presentation is to know your audience. What are they really there for? This conference was an engineering conference where the attendees were trying to gather a lot of data, charts, graphs, and well … engineering stuff. This I knew, but I also knew that they were going to see up to 15 presentations prior to me even taking the stage. I also knew that as the last presenter, they would begin to look at their watches and thinking about dinner.
Knowing this, I put together slides with a lot of animation. Nothing too crazy, but something where the attendees were forced to move their eyes. Some of the animation would have been tedious for an 8:30am presentation when people are still sharp, but this late in the afternoon it was refreshing to see continuous movement.
The slides were very simple also. I didn’t use any one word slides like I have in the past, but I also tried not to use any complete sentences. The worst thing you can do in a presentation is to read to your audience. Each slide should be a topic that you are speaking about, not the entire content. Think of it this way, if you read to your audience, where is the added value? Keep slides simple, use pictures and graphs when you can so you can talk to the slide, not just regurgitate what’s on it.
Presenting engineering data is always difficult. Data, in and among itself, means nothing. Your objective is to show results of the data, not each and every data point along the way. For example, if you are speaking to a group on sales performance, you don’t show each account or selling point, and their individual results, you show the total result. In the above slide, where do your eyes naturally go? Yep, upper right hand corner, looking at the bar chart.
I’ve never seen a presentation where all the spreadsheet data is needed. Eye Charts should never be used in a presentation. Show the exact data you want to highlight, and that’s it. Even in a small group of 10, showing a 14 column wide spreadsheet in Arial Font Size 10 is just not a professional way to present it.
Story telling is also a great way to get a point across. Whether it is a case study or a metaphor, use something that the audience can relate to instead of just spewing out facts.
If you are having problems with drafting your presentations, give us a call at Pinnacle Sales!