How to Deliver a Great Presentation
Learn how to deliver a great presentation, by following these simple presentation tips and techniques
Hello. I’m Jennifer Whitt, Director of ProjectManager.com. Well welcome to today’s whiteboard session on how to deliver a presentation. What I’ve learned is one of the most frightening things for most project managers is giving a presentation. But that’s where we can influence our team, influence our stakeholders, our executives, get their buy in, sell an idea.
It’s the most powerful thing we can do, but it’s the most frightening. But there are a few simple steps that I’m going to cover today on delivering a great presentation. So presentations are like any other thing that we have to do as project managers or any professional. It takes practice, so it’s something that instead of raising the bar and expecting to rock out in front of your audience or your team or any group that you’re presenting to. It’s about practice, practice, practice, practice. So here are a few things to get you going.
There are three components of a presentation. There’s actually the preparation for the presentation, there is the presentation itself, and there’s follow-up after the presentation. So, let’s break it down. Preparation is, “What do I do before I give my presentation?” So, there are a lot of things to do. Here are a few categories.
One is expectations. What are the expectations for your audience or for whoever is bringing you in? If you are giving a presentation to your executives, your stakeholders, maybe a client, your project team, number one, define your audience. But also talk with them and get clear expectations. I’ve got an SOW here because in the work that I do, I get a statement of work. It’s actually a documented, signed off, statement of work so that both parties know and agree to, and understand the expectations of that presentation.
So, it’s important to understand, what is the topic? What are you going to be presenting? Is it a status report? Is it a keynote? Is it information to a team? Are you rolling out a new project? Are you launching a new product line? What is it that is going to be the topic of your presentation?
Knowing the audience, who’s going to be there? Are you going to be presenting to executives, your stakeholders, your project team? Is it going to be different business units? Are there going to be internal, external people there? Is it going to be mix of people who are at different levels, different experiences?
What is the location? Where will this presentation be? Is it going to be in your office? Is it in the city? Is it in the country? Is it out of the country? What is the venue? Is it going to be a conference hall? Is it going to be a conference room? Is it going to be an office? What is the venue for the presentation?
Time, how long will you have? Will you have a 20-minute presentation? Is this a one-hour keynote? Is it 90 minutes? Do you have a half an hour? You need to know how much time you have. What takeaways are the clients or the people bringing you in expecting? What are you going to leave behind so that they can follow up, understand, read up on after your presentation, after you’re gone?
The second part is, once you have a clear expectation of what you’re going to be presenting, it’s researching. Researching through – I love Google. Google is one of my best friends. When I’m researching things it’s so easy to go Google a topic. I can also go to a library. I can also interview people.
One powerful thing for companies, your project teams is to interview the people who are going to be in the audience. Interview the people who are bringing you in for the presentation. The reason you want to do that is you want to find out what are the issues? What’s bothering them? What are you there to really address? Once you start talking to people you get different perspectives. Different perspectives of how people see the common issue and what you can do to actually address some of those issues.
Through that you want to remain relevant. Relevancy to your audience, you want to be talking about things that matter to them that’s timely. If you’re in technology you don’t want to be talking about technology that’s really old, that’s not applicable to them. If you’re doing green projects, non-profit projects, construction, engineering, whatever you’re doing you want to stay relevant to what they care about.
So you also want to keep in the back of your mind why do they care? Why are they bringing you in and why are they going to listen to you about this topic? What does this mean to them? People are always coming in for presentations. You want to keep them engaged, keep them excited, and tuned in to what you’re saying during your presentation. So it’s important to have them be thinking all the time, “What does this mean to me and how can I take this back and use it?”
Professional materials, so whether you’re delivering a PowerPoint, you’re actually giving handouts or presentation materials in hard copy, you want them to remain professional. If you’re going to be presenting something online it’s important to know how to get in, make sure you can have access, make sure that you have the log-ins and passwords and they’re still active and valid.
Then takeaways, making sure that your takeaways are ready. That you know where to ship them to and what’s actually needed. So, that’s a lot of preparation before you even begin. Those are only a few of many other things, which is an idea of where to start. Then I feel like there are some best practices before the presentation, before the day of.
It’s important to visit the venue. Actually go to the place where you’re having the meeting. If it’s in your office building just go make sure they have enough seating, the tables are arranged how you like it, the look and feel. If it’s a conference area, if it’s a stadium, if it’s on location, off location, visiting that before so you have an idea and you have a feel of what it feels like for you. How are you going to project? How many people are going to be there so you know what equipment you might need?
Also, rest and relax. Again, this is one of the most frightening things that most project managers do. Even professionals speakers always still get those butterflies in their stomachs before they speak. So it’s important to get a good night’s rest, not worried about your presentation, how things are going because you’ve done all this preparation. Just get a good night’s rest.
Also, equipment, making sure you have backups. I always have backups. I don’t leave myself held hostage to someone else getting equipment, getting materials, having control over what I’ve got to step into. Because what I’ve learned is, if you do that you don’t really know. You may expect them to have a laptop or LCD or materials there, and you show up and whoever is supposed to have that done, maybe they’re off, or they don’t really care. So I don’t leave myself open to those pitfalls.
Then snacks, depending on how long this is, if you’re there for a longer period of time, maybe you’re at a multiple speaking event, maybe you’re one of the later speakers, is having snacks, water, things to hydrate and nourish yourself. Then, the day of the presentation, again, this is during the presentation, this is a study. So for people who go in to begin speaking, this is a study. There are so many things that you can learn about each one of these.
So number one, arrive to the venue, set up, and test early. So, actually going on site the day of, you get there early. You make sure that the environment’s there. I don’t know how many times I’ve shown up and the power is out. Equipment didn’t show up. Critical resources didn’t show up, so it’s good to get there early so you make sure everything’s okay.
There are a lot of areas for failures here, so you want to keep on top of it. Set up and test your equipment, make sure your laptop works, your PowerPoint presentation works. If you’re doing something online, you have Internet reception. So get there early, because that way you have time, you give yourself time if something goes awry, to have a backup.
Number two, the presentation – wow, this one right here is a study in itself. If you go into making presentations this is an area of study where you can spend a lot of time working with mentors, taking classes to learn this skill. But in the presentation, there are three parts. There’s the intro, there’s the message that you’re delivering, and the outro.
So the intro is coming out strong, with either a question or a quote or a statistic. Some hook that gets your audience listening to you when you speak. Then there’s the message, having a clear, concise, pointed message that people can follow. If you’re rambling all over the place and people can’t follow you they’re going to leave confused and frustrated. So you want to have a clear, concise message.
Then the outro, how are you going to wrap it up? So you basically tell the audience what you’re going to tell them. You tell them through your message, and then you tell them again what you told them in your outro. So you introduce it, you say it, and then you wrap it up.
Then through there to the delivery is remembering a few items that is like, what is your tone? What are you there to do? Are you there to inspire a team? Are you there to inform someone? Are you there to deliver bad news?
So it’s remembering why you’re there. What tone do you need to set? Do you need to be upbeat? Do you need to be serious? Do you need to interject humor, or do you need to respect the fact that you’re going to have to deliver bad news?
Then the pace, understanding the pace. So you may have practiced and you may know what you’re going to say, so you have it down, but remembering that you’re audience has never heard this message before. So keeping a pace that people can follow and giving them the pause so they can actually sink in and listen to, and hear what you’re saying.
Then questions, knowing how, when you’re going to ask questions. So you need to know going in, are you going to leave yourself room to ask questions? Are you going to take questions during the presentation? Or are you going to take questions after the presentation?
One powerful thing we’ve learned is, you don’t want to leave your presentation with a powerful message, setting people up to know exactly what you want, and then leaving someone to disrupt your whole presentation by asking some question that’s going to throw either the audience off or you off. So you want to leave yourself room if you do ask questions at the end to leave yourself time to go back and reset the message that you left your audience with.
You also want to have them know, what are the next steps? What are the next steps that they are supposed to take? Give them a call to action. Do they need to go complete a survey? Do they need to take a course? Do they need to go complete some deliverables, read a brochure? Do they need to come back for the next class? What is it that you need them to do?
Always, always, always give them your contact information. How can they reach you for further questions? Can they email you? Can they call you? Do they fill out a form? What do they do to reach you for more information?
We found some of the best practices are when you’re at the presentation, and at the end, collect cards from people. If they have cards, get their cards so you have their contact information. Make little notes. I always get someone’s card and if they ask me a question I write a note on the back, “Hey, they asked this question and I need to send some follow-up.” Or if they want me to send them a book or some resources I write the note on the back of their card.
Then I write down any questions that people ask that I need to take back and maybe follow up to one person or follow up to the group. Then I also take any other notes that maybe I need to go back and adjust in my presentation, or follow up some note to myself of something I need to do.
Then, there’s the follow-up. So this is what happens after the presentation. Again, it’s more study about this. But here are a few things that I like to do is send a thank you. Depending upon what’s appropriate for your audience, again depending on who they are and what it is that you had the presentation on, I like to send a little thank you.
“Thank you for attending my session. Thank you for attending this presentation or this course. Here are the things that we said. You asked this question and I found it was very interesting, thank you for participating.” Or you can do that through email or a note card.
If you committed to send any other additional takeaways, then send those promptly. Address any questions. Again, if it’s individual or group do you answer those questions timely and promptly, and send it to either the individual or the group, whoever you’re committed to?
Follow up on next steps. So if you left your audience with next steps, then follow up on the next steps. Maybe after a day or so, or a week, follow up and say, “How’s it going? I know you were going to read this article or take this course or take this survey. How is it going? I’d like to hear more.”
Then you schedule the next step. So after these steps are completed it’s always taking them through next steps. If there are no other, further, next steps, then close it out. So, close it out formally so everyone knows that it’s closed and then, again, always provide your contact information.
Again, this is a study. When you’re giving presentations, it’s on and on. So people who present, they study. They’re always learning. They’re always growing. So there are different resources that I like to recommend. Number one, if you have a local Toastmasters. Toastmasters are groups that give you tips, tools, and techniques on how to give better presentations.
There’s also the National Speakers Association. Also, some of the other groups, volunteer groups, non-profit groups, you may be involved in, you can practice speaking. You can even go to your organization, maybe your Human Resources, or project teams and ask for more experience of giving out presentations. Then mentors, I have my own mentors who I study with, and I’m always practicing on either the business aspect of it, the preparation of the follow-up, or the actual presentation. So, again, it’s a study.
If you need any additional tips, tools, or techniques to deliver your great presentation, then visit us at ProjectManager.com.