3 Tips for Delivering a Powerful Presentation

How you present yourself or your work can determine a potential promotion, sale, or job offer. These three simple ideas, from my new book, Peak Presentations, can go a long way towards helping you achieve the outcomes you want.

PowerPoint Slides: Don’t Compete!
When using PowerPoint slides to support a presentation, make sure the slide content doesn’t compete with what you are saying. Often this can happen when the presenter places too much content on the slide, so the audience has to decide– read the slides, or listen to the presenter? Think back to a recent presentation you attended, and you’ll know what I mean. That’s why you need to keep the slides simple– relegate them to a true supporting role. They should enhance your words, not compete with them; people are there to listen to you! The handouts, on the other hand, are a different story– that’s where you can give them details.

Make it Useful: Focus on their Bottom Line
It’s easy to talk about what you know. It’s harder to apply your knowledge to the specific issues of the audience members before you. Every audience member wants to know “how can you help me?” Taking steps to keep the focus on your audience’s bottom line is key to winning them over!

Here’s an example: I facilitated a meeting between David, a business owner with a client-relationship-management (CRM) software product, and Julie, a potential client for David, whom I knew and thought could benefit from David’s product. I had both worked with David before and used his software, so I could vouch for him and his product.

About five minutes into David’s initial presentation to Julie, however, I began to see that David was not going to get the sale. The reason: he went right into the features and the bells and whistles of his software, instead of keeping the focus on Julie’s specific problems, and how he could help solve them! In short, he took the easy route, instead of the harder route which would have involved seeking to understand Julie’s issues, and then translating his product’s benefits into solutions for Julie.

Following this non-event, I worked with David on his sales presentation. The next time around, he did his homework about what problems his software could solve for the prospective client, and what opportunities it could open up. He also made sure to ask a few key questions early in the meeting which further identified CRM-related issues the prospect was facing. This time, you guessed it, he got the sale.

Have an on-the-job pitch at the ready
Having a very short, “five second pitch” at the ready for unexpected encounters can turn a mundane situation into a career-enhancing opportunity. The following client experience illustrates how this “mini-presentation” can help you.

Mike was in an elevator at work. The doors opened and in walked a more senior executive, Andrea, with whom Mike had little interaction. She said, “Hi Mike, how are you?” Mike could have made small talk, but instead, he used his five second pitch: “Well, we’ve just rolled out the new workflow-management platform, so things are great!” ”Oh you’re involved with that?”, asked Andrea. Mike’s response: “Actually, I’ve been leading the effort for the past three months!” Now they were having a conversation about this big triumph in Mike’s career.

Andrea ended the conversation with “Given your leadership role, we may want you for our cross-functional task-force for company-wide workflow management– I’ll talk to your boss about it.” The result? Mike transformed a potentially trivial encounter to a possibly significant career-enhancing opportunity.