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How to improve your presentation skills

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

How many times in a year do you present to a group of busy executives. Far too often?

Whether you are pitching an idea to your manager, trying to win a business deal, or just sharing your story - your presentation skills determine the outcome of each of these scenarios. Presenting your ideas with clarity and sense of purpose takes you far in your career and business.

Often, important business decisions are based on the presentation you deliver for a few minutes. Given the significance of business presentations, ensure to pack a punch in your story line.

This blog summarizes some of the key concepts of effective presentation to help you improve your presentation design and delivery skills.

1. Know your audience. But how?

Let’s say you are meeting an Investor for a funding round. How well you know your investor will shape your messaging and presentation style.

Understand as much as you can - demographics (age, gender, education, background), culture, motivations, hobbies, influencers, etc.

Know-all information about your audience will help you prepare better, present the commonalities and narrate relevant examples.

Here are some useful methods to understand your audience

  1. Send a survey Tools: Google Forms, Survey Monkey, Type Form

  2. Talk to your connections Example: If you are speaking at an event, ask the organizers on what usually works with the audience

  3. Leverage social media Example: If you are presenting to a group of Doctors, then seek feedback from the online community of Doctors about your messaging.

2. Nothing is more impressive than a good story

Some of the most memorable presentations of recent times - whether it’s Steve Jobs ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ speech at Stanford University in 2015 or Malala Yousafzai Nobel prize speech - have something in common. Powerful and inspirational stories that ties back to the message.

We all love stories - that are new and authentic. Stories are everywhere, look around and look within.

Here are some tips to identify stories worth sharing

  1. Share your personal stories

  2. Look for examples within your company

  3. Share the experiences from your industry

  4. Tell the story of people you know

3. Story line is the backbone of your presentation

Like a good movie, a good story line keeps the audience engaged throughout the presentation. Find your Hero, Villain and Climax.

Remember the famous ‘Mac PC’ launch by Steve Jobs. ‘Microsoft’ was the Villain, ‘Apple’ the Hero and the benefits / change presented as Climax.

Here are some of the popular storylines you may consider for your next presentation.

  1. Problem → Solution → Benefit

  2. Vision → Solution → Benefits

  3. Benefits → Solution → Vision

If you would like further elaboration, do comment on the post - i will revert back with a detailed response.

4. Answer the ‘So What’

While the information you present is important, what makes it complete is when you answer the ‘So What’ question for every piece of information you share. Try answering how the information is relevant to the audience.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he didn’t talk about it’s processing power, or the storage capacity. He just said ‘1000 songs in your pocket’. Now that’s a perfect ‘So What’.

5. Remember ‘Less is More’

Fewer the amount of information you show, the more likely your audience will remember that information.

‘Less is More’ is not necessarily a design concept, but a frugal messaging strategy that simplifies the messaging structure and the delivery.

Here are few tips to implement ‘Less is More’