While having the right content is important for any presentation to prospects or clients, the way you present that information is equally important.
Preparation is key, says Jasmin Bergeron, a keynote speaker for financial advisors and director of the MBA program in financial services at l’Université du Québec à Montréal.
Bergeron, who has conducted more than 1,500 presentations throughout his career, says confidence in making presentations grows with practice. “I know how the crowd is going to react,” he says.
Bergeron shares three tips to help you get ready for any presentation:
> Rehearse often
To build your confidence, you must know your material — and you must show that you believe in it. Practicing your presentations is the best way to boost your confidence.
Use your tablet or smartphone to record your rehearsal, Bergeron suggests. Seeing yourself onscreen might feel awkward at first. But it will allow you to see yourself from the point of view of an audience member. You will get a chance to identify any bad habits or mannerisms you may have.
For example, you might learn from seeing your video that you speak very quickly, and realize you have difficulty understanding yourself. You can then make the necessary adjustments to your delivery.
> Become familiar with the presentation venue
Whether you’re making your presentation at a convention centre, a restaurant or a corporate meeting room, try to check out your venue in advance.
Knowing the room’s layout will help you decide how you will place your equipment, such as your computer, a microphone and speakers. Also, take the opportunity to check your equipment to ensure it is functional. Check lighting and sound as well as details such as whether the room’s temperature is comfortable.
“You can have the best presenter in the world on stage,” Bergeron says, “but if it’s too hot or too cold, everyone will just want to leave.”
While you’re there, look to see how the seating is arranged. Your audience members should be sitting close together. So, if you’re expecting 50 people, don’t set out 100 chairs, otherwise your audience will then be sparsely distributed.
Having people spread out can negatively affect the energy in the room. Also, it is easier to make eye contact with participants if they are close together and not sitting in all corners of the room.
> Have all of your equipment ready
If you plan to present on a regular basis, have “two of everything” regarding your equipment, Bergeron advises. That means two laptops, two sets of speakers, two microphones and two projectors. Backups will come in handy if something malfunctions.
At the very least, you should be double-checking equipment before you leave your office to ensure everything is in working order.
Make sure your presentation is saved on a portable flash drive. Too many presenters try to access their presentation online using the venue’s Wi-Fi connection, Bergeron says, only to find that it doesn’t work well.