In every second list of tips how to make good presentations I read that you should simply “present like Steve” (Jobs, the late Apple CEO).
No, I don’t believe that this helps. When I give presentation trainings and ask about people’s experiences and expectations, it turns out that many people are afraid of presentations because they think the audience expects them to present like Steve, and they feel they can’t (which is partly true if you’re yourself and not Steve) and so they get nervous, make mistakes, and then a vicious cycle starts.
It’s a bit like the old challenge when people are asked not to think about a pink elephant. If you have in mind that you must impress your audience, you might not reach this goal, especially if you’re trying too hard.
Think about the purpose of your presentation long before you actually go on stage. If there’s a secret to good, memorable and maybe even impressive presentations, it’s thorough preparation. The less experience you have, the more you should work on preparing your presentation. Only very experienced presenters might trust their ability to improvise, and even then things can go wrong.
I’ve done quite a handful of presentations, I usually feel rather comfortable in front of an audience, but if I haven’t concentrated on the preparation, my presentations are not the best they can be.
To start preparations, ask questions.
*„What‘s my point?“
* „Why does it matter?“
* „Why was I chosen to speak?“
*„Why have people come to see me?“
*„How much time do I have?“
*„ What do I want people to remember?“
Now that everyone seems to be online all the time, it might sound old-fashioned, but when you prepare your presentation, switch off the computer, notebook, handheld, tablet. Typing content directly into a template will not help you deliver good presentations. Structure your thoughts, think about what you will say and why. Put yourself into the shoes of your audience: what might they want to take home from your presentation?
Since you will never be able to include everything you know in one presentation, you need to decide beforehand whether you want your presentation to be deep or wide. Doing both usually doesn’t work.
And during your preparation, also think about your backup plan if the technology fails. This sounds scary, I know, but if you’ve thought about all kinds of “emergencies” before, you won’t get too nervous when they happen. And most of the time it’s like taking an umbrella with you, you won’t need it anyway.
Have fun preparing your next presentation, and watch this space for further tips!