6 keys to a successful presentation

Presentations to teams or decision-makers is a recurring exercise for the project manager. How do you avoid putting your audience to sleep? What techniques are there to pass your message on effectively?

1 – Don’t rush into PowerPoint

“The worst thing to do is to create your own material directly without having thought about your goal,” says Charlotte Verbiest, president of Think C and business presentation specialist. “Occupied with creating pages, the essence is forgotten.” So before you open PowerPoint, take the time to think “strategically”.

2 – Validate your objective and key message

Begin by defining the exact purpose of your presentation. Is it to inform? Convince? Influence? What is the message that my audience absolutely has to leave with? You will then build your presentation based on this message. In this way your audience will know exactly what action to take as a result of this presentation.

3 – Take account of your audience

Visualize your audience. It will determine how to present your analysis. “For senior executives, you get to the point of the subject more quickly than a less-informed audience, where you have to focus more on the background,” points out Mrs. Verbiest. Your content should therefore take into account the perspective and expectations of your listeners.

4 – Structure your presentation as a story

Follow a logical thread (introduction/background, development, conclusion), including steps supporting your key message. Detail a single idea on each slide, clearly expressed in its title. Also remember that “a presentation does not mean showing facts and figures but offering an analysis and impacts,” says Mrs. Verbiest.

5 – Make your presentation visual

Avoid unnecessary text and illustrate your title message with a relevant visual. “To describe the progress of a project, for example, use a linear representation from left to right rather than a bullet list,” advises Mrs. Verbiest. “Put important figures in colour or add text boxes on your graphics to specify the direct impact for your audience.”

6 – Work on your speech

With a well-prepared presentation, you will arrive confident before your audience. To capture their attention from the beginning, take care of your introductory sentence by avoiding the uninspiring “first name, last name, function”. Once started, try to eliminate tics (language and gestures). Finally, think how to guide your audience through the stages of your presentation, with specific transitions and emphasis. In this way, you won’t leave anyone behind!

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