Perfect presentations take preparation and practice

Did you see the Apprentice on the BBC this week? If you did you’ll have seen Leon whinging that his team had been given several hours just to prepare the team’s presentation. He made it clear that he wasn’t going to spend hours preparing and then went on to deliver a dreadful pitch and wondered why none of his team congratulated him for a pitch well done.

I see poor pitches being made all the time. I’m certainly guilty of having delivered a few less than perfect presentations. The problem is usually down to inadequate preparation and lack of practice. So here is a mini checklist if you ever have to make a business presentation or one minute pitch.

  1. What message do you want to convey? If you only have one minute then keep to one message.
  2. What does your audience already know? What language do they understand? You can only get away with jargon if you are 100% sure that all your audience will understand it.
  3. What action do you want your audience to take at the end of your presentation? Signpost this in your introduction.
  4. Give your audience a reason to listen to you. Answer their question, ‘What have I got to gain from listening to this?’ Opening with a question to qualify your audience can be a good start.
  5. If your audience has mixed experience it is a good idea to share information which acknowledges some people may know already but others may not. See the opening paragraph to this article for an example. I haven’t insulted people who saw the programme (I hope) but I have told those who didn’t what they missed. My readers should therefore all understand my starting point.
  6. Check you are using verbal rather than written language. If in doubt read it aloud. Written language is usually more stilted than the spoken word. Try recording what you want to say and then transcribing it.
  7. Make sure that your presentation has a structure, usually a beginning, middle and end.
  8. If you are using visual aids keep them simple, an image or one word rather than a screen full of text. Speak to the audience not the visual aid.
  9. Be very specific about the action you want your audience to take next and make it easy for them.
  10. Finally, I like a mnemonic I read this week. STAR. Give them Something They Always Remember.

Once you’ve got your content organised you just have to practice, practice, practice until you  can deliver an engaging, memorable presentation with confidence.

If you ever have to make the one minute pitches favoured by many networking organisations you might be interested in a programme Graham Le Gall of Galleou Training and I are putting together. It’s called ‘Winning It with your One Minute’. We’re starting with a pilot session on Monday 27th June from 11.00-2.00 in Ealing. Because it’s a pilot we’re charging a ridiculously low £30 for the session! Email me for details. If you can’t make the session but want to know how we can help, please email.

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