Tips and Analysis
Sun 07 Apr 2013

Presenting - outside the box Subscribe Email Print

Written by Richard Matthews. Categories: Presentation tips Tags:

It constantly surprises me how often I meet people who think that presentations are typically about two things:

  1. Going through an elaborately designed, probably overlong, series of Powerpoint slides
  2. Taking questions at the end

On that basis, so they tell me, they don't actually "do" presentations, since they don't work in the traditional corporate sector, or they get their business through meeting and getting to know people at networking events.

This is a head in the sand mindset.

In actual fact, standing up at a networking event to introduce yourself is a mini-presentation.  And the product is you.

I've recently been working with a global organization, specifically with some of their newest intake.  Really bright people.  But it hadn't occurred to some of them that the simple fact of walking into a room, shaking hands with a prospective client, and making a brief introduction about themselves and what they can offer is actually a presentation. The audience may only be one. There may be no overhead projectors in sight.  There will almost certainly be no handouts. But it's still a presentation!  If I am on the receiving end of this type of introduction, I'm looking at body language, eye contact, vocal clarity, whether the person is relaxed or tense, if they are well groomed, can they use humour successfully and - do I like them?  If the score on these counts is low, there's little point the person saying "let me just get out my Powerpoint slides".

A poor introduction will heavily influence prospective clients. We present far more than we realise. So think outside the box and of your "introduction" as the first stage of your presentation.  Decisions to engage are made in seconds.  And you might have just blown your chance.

Tue 05 Feb 2013

Scared to learn your presentation? Subscribe Email Print

Written by Richard Matthews. Categories: Presentation tips Tags: quicktips, improvisation, mind mapping

When did you last see a business presentation where the presenter spoke without notes or auto cue ? Probably not for a long time. If at all. Speaking without a script is often shunned: it's just one step too far, too much to deal with on the day. Better to leave it to professional speakers used to the glare of an audience and don't have to worry about nerves.

That's the easy way out. Speaking without notes is a highly desirable way to present, and perfectly achievable to even the first time public speaker.

Here's an easy first step. I've just been in a play at London's Old Vic. On the first rehearsal day, we read the play and discussed it. On the second, we were given ten minutes to improvise a physical gesture and title for each scene. Quite a challenge. But it proved a brilliant way of getting a strong mental picture of the structure of the play, effectively a mind map,which really facilitated learning the text.

It's perfectly translatable to the business world. Have a solid and clear structure. Create some simple titles for each section, and if it works for you, have a visual image for each one. If you worry you will forget your train of thought if speaking without notes, this will help you. But over time, it will help you talk freely around your "structure" titles and release you from having to learn a script.

It's a useful first step on the road to impactful public speaking