How to present like a professional


So in this section, we’re going
to talk about presentations. The main aim of any presentation
is to entertain, to draw people in, to make them
relax and think, this is going to be great. My next 20 minutes
of my life is going to be listening, learning
something, and having a great impression. If they’re enjoying it,
they will engage with you. They’ll ask
questions, and they’ll come away with a
positive view of you as competent and confident. So there are many forms of
presentation: small group, like this, one-to-one,
big theatre. And often, we use
PowerPoint, and that’s what we’re going to
do here on the screen. I’m going to run
through some slides to talk about how to
present like a professional. Question 1, what
are the objectives of a live presentation? What do you think? To educate. Tell a story. To tell a story, right. Yes, everyone loves stories. To get your key points across. I think the emphasis is
on key, not everything. So I would argue, yes, it
is to entertain, number 1, to engage people,
communicate the key message, demonstrate the
benefit of listening. Why should I spend the next
20 minutes listening to this? But overall, create
an impression about the sort of person and
the impression of your work. How do we create
that impression? I think you need to show that
you are on top of the content, that you are confident
but not overconfident. So you know your stuff. You’re warm. You’re empathic. You’re connecting
with the audience. You’re open. You’re honest. When you don’t know the
answer to something, you say that and that you
welcome debate, and question, and challenge. Let me just butt in here. When you’re giving a
presentation, what you say is important. But how you say it may
be even more important. We live in an attention economy. You need to know how to
connect with your audience and connect with them fast. I’ve spent years studying
the art of speech-making. What’s clear is that there
are a few simple techniques you can use to quickly
forge that rapport. What do you think I am? A full-blooded combat soldier. Not anymore. I don’t want it. That’s too bad, because
you’re stuck with it. Let me tell you a story, John. I want to tell you a story. Since we were first warming
mammoth stew at the campfire, those have been
compelling words. Stories are humanising,
relatable, and give a narrative shape to your ideas. Grouping things into three,
what rhetoric scholars call a tricolon, is always
an effective technique. It just sounds right. You can find tricolons
in every political speech from Pericles to Barack Obama. But here’s The Wizard of Oz. Weren’t you frightened? Frightened? You are talking to a man who has
laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and
chuckled at catastrophe. You know what a rhetorical
question is, don’t you? There’s a good way of
mixing up your presentation and engaging the
audience directly rather than monologuing. And what have they ever
given us in return? The Aqueduct? What have the Romans
ever done for us? Obviously, the point about
a rhetorical question is that it’s not usually
supposed to invite an answer. But it still makes a point. And my overall point
is that by using the devices I’ve
talked about, you, too, can be a great speaker. Right. Back to the classroom. People learn in
very different ways. And that means
your audience will be learning in different ways. And here are four of them. There are people in the
audience who are theorists. So they want to know
the theory behind what it is you’re presenting. What’s the evidence
for what you’re saying? There’ll be a group of
people who are, if you like, activists. They want practical examples. Show me. Don’t tell me. Show me how this works. You talked earlier
about stories. So there are
pragmatists in the room. Tell me a story. Give me an example
of how this worked. And then finally,
there’ll be a group of people who are reflectors. Don’t expect an immediate
reaction from those people. They need to go away
and think about things about what you’ve said. So these are your four
groups, which means, any presentation probably will
have a mixture of those people. And you’re going
to want to provide different evidence for people. In a very simple example,
some people like percentages. Some people like ratios. Some people like fractions. You’ll hear this all the
time with politicians. One moment they’re saying, one
in five people and the next, they’re saying,
about 20 per cent. Some tips to make your
content and slides great. Plan on no more than
one slide a minute. Keep your background
really simple. Use a slide to show content
that would be difficult or take too long to describe,
for example, photos, or maps, or graphs. Make the text legible. No fancy fonts, something
really clear and simple. The fewer the words, the better. Avoid distracting animation,
and keep only one main idea on each slide. In terms of structure of
a PowerPoint presentation, it’s the classic, tell them
what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, and then
tell them what you told them. And as you go through
a presentation, let people know
where they are in it. There’s nothing worse than
the audience thinking, is there much more of this? Where are we? Are we 10 slides into 150? Are we 10 slides into 12,
and we’re almost there? You can do that with items
in the top left-hand corner. Or tell them there are 12 pages
coming, and this is number 4. But let people know
where they are. I’m not going to talk about what
goes on the slide, especially when you have text. There are two elements of this. One is what Barbara Minto
in the Pyramid Principle called horizontal logic. So this is taking you from
one slide to the next. What is the story? This is a very important
element of any presentation is, if you like, the red
line through the story. And here is an
example, where we’ve done the project for a
cafe, and the message is that the cafe has
potential to grow. And how do we get
that message over? With a set of slides where
the headlines tell the story. In fact, all you need to
do is to read the headlines as you go through it. Under this headline, we’ve
actually got some data. And we’ll come to the vertical
logic on the next page. On this one, few people
have heard of it. They discovered it by accident. When they do get there, it’s
good value, but it’s limited. If it were better, they’d
stay longer and spend more. So it’s one slide to the next. And the point always is,
you don’t know how much time the reader has got. If they’ve got three seconds,
that’s the message… the red line. If they’ve got 30 seconds,
they’ll scan the headlines. And if they’ve got the full
half hour of your presentation, they’ll get the rest of it. So on each slide, we
then have vertical logic, where, unlike writing an
essay or telling a fairy story – this happened, then this
happened, then this happened, and therefore, that
was the answer – we give them the
headline at the top. Think of it like newspapers,
where here’s the answer: why, why, why. And again, for your
fast reader, they just might want the headline
and that’s enough. Think of it. When you read a newspaper,
sometimes you read the headline and you think, I don’t need
any more about this story. I’m not interested in it. But sometimes you want
to unwrap it a bit. So structure it
like a newspaper. Again, one topic per page. Very important that
it answers, so what? So don’t just say, the
readership of the FT is a million people. So what? So you could put
it in comparison. You could talk about
the growth over time. You could talk about
where they’re based and what’s going on. So that’s a very
strong question. Someone else could
say, well, so what? What goes on here is evidence
to support the headline. And finally, when
you do write these, we all fall into the old trick
of this happened, then this, and this, and here is the
answer right at the bottom. And remember, when
we’re talking about CVs, people don’t always read to
the end of your lovely text. So don’t put the
answer at the bottom. That’s why the answer
goes at the top. When you deliver
slides, I would talk about clearing the
news off the slides. So if it’s a complex chart
or it’s a photograph, tell people what they’re
looking at before you get into explaining why it’s
important to look at it. So this chart shows on
the x-axis so and so, on the y-axis, this and that,
and it shows three lines. The red, the yellow, the
green are all doing this. Clear the news so that
no one’s saying, sorry, what does that acronym mean? You don’t need notes. You will know your
content really well. Notes just get in the way. You haven’t got free arms. You drop them. They’re not stapled together. They get out of order. You can’t react quickly. And this is a common fear. But if I don’t have notes,
I won’t say everything. But that’s what Q&A in for. You’re trying to
give an impression, not actually give them
the whole text from A to Z. So don’t worry about
missing something out. Talking of questions. Last slide. At the end, you might say, I
am happy to take questions, and then be quiet. Someone will break
the ice at that point. It’s always difficult to get
questions at the beginning, but someone will do it. Usually, if someone’s
chairing your session, they might ask one. It’s helpful to repeat
and rephrase the question, especially if it’s
emotionally fired up. Someone saying, well, I
disagree with everything you’ve said there. Take the emotion out of it
and rephrase the question. What the questioner
is asking is, have I actually
collected the evidence from a big enough sample? And then explain. When you finish the answer, end
it looking at somebody else. Otherwise, it gives
this person the chance to come back,
thinking, oh, I’m going to have another go at them. Because they have just come back
in a challenging sort of way. So three top tips for
a great presentation is to video yourself, rehearse
in front of an audience, even of one, and above all,
learn how to entertain in your presentation.

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