How to Make Great Presentations

Speaking in public is a skill that anyone can learn. It’s kind of like going to the gym. To be fit, you need to exercise regularly – not just before bikini season and after Christmas break. “Learn the basics of communication and presentation skills and jump at every single opportunity to speak,” advises communication strategist and Be Bold partner Alena Huberová.

Why is learning communication and presentation skills important for businesspeople?

People who communicate their ideas well are more successful because they get us interested in what they do and thereby compel us to do something, from buying a certain product to investing money. Many people have amazing business ideas but since they don't know how to communicate to get people to buy in, they don't get the support they need from investors or buyers. Therefore, communication and presentation skills are absolutely essential.

Let’s say I want to improve my presentation skills. How should I start?  

I recommend that everyone learn the fundamental principles by either attending a workshop or taking a private coach. Once you have acquired the basics, jump at every single opportunity to speak. If you don’t have the chance to practice at work, deliver a toast at a party or organize an event for your friends. Another great way to improve your skills is by joining a Toastmasters club. The club members meet every week to deliver speeches and give each other feedback. You can also learn a lot from books – as long as you practice what’s written in them.

How about watching other speakers and getting inspired by them?

That’s also good. I recommend people watch and learn from different speakers and styles, which can help them cultivate their own unique style. I love to watch business professionals who are not professional speakers but happen to be great communicators, like British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (in his TED talk he applies all the best presentation practices), professor of behavioral economics an education expert Dan Ariely or Sir Ken Robinson, an education expert.

When learning presentation skills, do I need to learn specific skills for my job or universal skills that I can apply at any occasion?

There are certain rules that apply for all presentations. The first one is getting to know your audience – who they are and what they expect from you. The audience isn’t interested in who you are but rather what you or your idea can do for them. So, adjust the presentation to give them what they want. Then there’s the goal of your presentation: what are you trying to achieve and what should be the key takeaway? And finally it’s making sure your message is compelling – understandable, tangible and emotional. If you go by these rules, your chances to deliver a great presentation increase dramatically.

What would you say about presentation style?

Having a compelling style is as important as having a great message. Ideally, we should talk about things that matter to us and about which we feel positive and passionate because emotions show and are highly contagious. If you totally believe in what you’re saying and you’re enthusiastic, the audience will feel the same. Storytelling is wonderful because sharing something personal triggers powerful emotions both in the speaker and in the audience.
We’ve talked a lot about improving speaking skills, but certain factors can impede the quality of a great presentation, like a bored and sleepy audience or people’s shortening attention span.

What can I, as a speaker, do about it?

It’s your responsibility to entertain the audience. There are tons of techniques to keep the audience engaged. Using music works wonders, and so does asking questions or making the audience stand up and move or participate in different dynamics. We should also be careful about our slides. They should never contain the whole message, but only serve as a visual background to support our message.

What other mistakes should I avoid?

A bad habit is using empty corporate phrases in presentations such as “Our solution will increase your customers’ engagement” or “We develop state-of-the-art solutions to increase your productivity.” What does it mean? If your solution is as wonderful as you say it is, prove it to them! Show them or tell them exactly what it will do to improve their lives. Your customers need to be able to visualize it in their heads, and if they cannot, your message has failed.

Is there anything else I should keep in mind while presenting?

This sounds very superficial, but perception is reality. In order for the audience to accept you and your message, they need to perceive you as someone credible and trustworthy. In other words, they’re looking for signs of strength in you (“this person knows what they’re talking about”) and signs of warmth (“this person genuinely cares”). I’ve noticed that while presenting, many women radiate a very soft feminine energy and as a result aren’t perceived as credible enough. Or, they radiate too much power with their body language and words and are perceived as overly masculine and cold by the audience. It’s important to find a balance between the two.

If you’re unsure how to start, talk to us! We provide consultancy and also run training workshops to give you the chance to learn the fundamentals and practice all the essential skills that will make you and your business stand out!

Interviewer: Veronika Gregušová

10 December 2018

 

11.12.2018

Lucie Kudrnová

Lucie Kudrnová
B!B Strategist
“Helping you do hard business in a smooth way.”

Business and sales strategist, consultant and certified coach. Well-versed in B2B sales and marketing, management and company analysis.