Here’s the final post in the presentation series. I hope you enjoyed the first two and more importantly got some practical benefit from them.
You may be wondering what is left to cover off given what not to do, and the only tips you’ll ever need have already been shared. Well, if you want to do something special, to stand out from the crowd, or to make a BIG impression, then trust me, you need to read this.
Maybe you’ve been putting the previous posts to use and notice your confidence growing, or maybe you’re already a regular presenter and are ready to take things to a new level. Well, after reading this you can go from delivering a solid presentation, to blowing the audience away.
Having to present to your team, colleagues and/or bosses no longer needs to be dreaded, no longer needs to fills you with fear and anxiety, and no longer needs to be a ball ache.
With the insider tips in this post you can smash it out of the park every time and have the audience talking about it for weeks afterwards.
How do I know?
For 6 years of my early career I was a software trainer at 2 top tier investment banks. I had to conduct a variety of 1-1 training, group classes and department wide presentations to audiences ranging from 3 to 300 people on nearly a daily basis.
I also watched a lot of other presentations being delivered by my peers. I’m absolutely not claiming to be an expert, but I learnt a huge amount along the way about what works and what doesn’t when the moment arrives and you have to face a crowd and deliver.
You’ve read about the basics, you’ve read about the common mistakes we make, but the stuff in this post is different. Are you ready to raise your game? Because this shit is about to get real.
Warning: These advanced tips are not for beginners and will not be suitable for all situations. Please exercise caution when applying them, and consider the safety of the audience (and your career) at all times.
1. Qualify your authority
Why are you doing this presentation? What makes you the expert? Why the hell should they listen to you?
Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t be coy. Show off a little and share what knowledge, experience, or skills you have on the topic that mean you are qualified to present on it (for an example of this – see above).
2. Be shameless
Tell the utter truth. Put your cards entirely on the table. Not sure what I mean? Here are some examples –
- You’re so anxious about it you’ve spent as much time in the toilet as you have at your desk today
- You’re only doing the presentation because your boss pushed you into it
- Your last presentation went so bad someone threw a cabbage at you
- You think the topic of the presentation is devastatingly boring, but you’ve got to talk about it anyway
- You’re husband / wife / partner / goldfish is p!ssed off with you because you’re driving them crazy by constantly practising at home
- You were pleasantly surprised when writing the presentation that the content is actually mildly interesting
- You’re rattled about a separate issue impacting your work day
- You don’t think the audience are going to like what they hear
- You’re distracted because there is someone in the audience you have a crush on
- You know they are only there because their boss told them to come, but you’ll do your best to make it as painless as possible and get it done quickly (as long as they promise to be attentive for just a short time)
- You’re hungry and when you are hungry you fart so you’re going to do your best not make any sudden movements
- Your tired because you were kept up all night by foxes shagging below your bedroom window
I’ve heard all of the above. The presenters (different each time) were completely open and revealed something to the audience that they definitely weren’t expecting. Each time the audience instantly became more attentive.
By putting it out there and being confident, honest and relaxed then the audience will be more relaxed too, and warm to your integrity. So whatever is on your mind, however you are feeling – just be honest and share it.
3. Use shock tactics.
OK, listen up shit heads.
That got your attention – right?
You must have sat in on a bunch of corporate presentations over the years, so you know the drill. You sit down (not at the front), you drift in and out of attention, you check your phone occasionally, you don’t ask any questions, you don’t answer any questions, you leave and then you forget 99% of the content.
How many stand out? Which one’s do you remember? The one where you were surprised, shocked or amazed by what happened or what was discussed. So:
- Throw things at people. Seriously, I’ve seen it done. If someone dozes off throw them a boiled sweet, then tell them to eat the sweet because they clearly need a sugar rush
- Swear (a little). I’ve found the occasional use of ‘cock’ and ‘balls’ to be particularly effective.
- Get people to throw things at you. Make everyone write a question on a piece of paper at a given point in the presentation and either screw it into a ball, or make a paper aeroplane and throw them at you. The 3 that hit you / land closest will be discussed and answered
- Shout in the middle of a sentence
- Bang the table / lectern with your fist
- Stand on a desk
- Kick a chair over
- Write on people. Literally go into the audience and write key points on people’s hands with a (non-permanent) marker pen
Out of context these may seem ludicrous, but with careful planning and preparation these can instantly add humour, clarity and raise the attentiveness of the audience.
You know what stood out to you in presentations you’ve been in. Steal those ideas, just like I am here.
5. Be provocative.
Like it or not, lust is one of the core human emotions.
If you read newspapers, magazines, watch TV or travel on public transport then you’re familiar with being surrounded by images of attractive, smiling women, handsome, well groomed men and the use of provocative words used to sell pretty much anything. Why? Because it works.
Sex sells, so use it to spice up your presentation.
Here’s a bunch of suggestive words you could subtly incorporate:
Or just add images of hot guys and girls into your presentation (you can even combine this with tip #2 and tell the audience exactly what you are doing)
I’ll never forget when an unassuming and normally very quiet colleague did a short presentation to share some statistics on a recent project with a group of around 7 people.
She stated up front that she thought the content was very dry, but also very important so she wanted to try something different to help people remember.
Actually, what she said was more like:
I know the content is boring
but it’s important and you really should try and remember
so in order to stop you from snoring
I’m gonna rap about the stats from November
She instantly had the attention of everyone in the room, and guess what? It worked. I can still remember that:
85 percent of online visitors missed an important link,
(even though it was there in blue ink),
it hardly ever got seen,
because it was hidden at the bottom of the bloody screen
7. Leave them wanting more
Play a game with yourself where you try not to use a single unnecessary word. If that means the whole thing only takes six and a half minutes, great, there’s only 1440 minutes in a day, we need to use then wisely. So say what you’ve got to say and call it a day. You made people sit up and pay attention with the previous tips, but don’t overdo it and bask in the glory of an awesome presentation at the end.
Once the questions have been dealt with stop. Don’t flap around. Turn your back to the audience, sit down, or walk out. (As long as you’ve made it clear how they can reach you afterwards).
Presentations at work don’t need to be boring and dull. They can be, and should be, lively, enjoyable and inspiring.
Yes, you need to remain professional, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and do things differently once in a while.
You now have a wide range of techniques and tips that you can employ to add zest and interest to your content, however dry it may look. So next time you need to present, revisit these posts, remind yourself what to avoid, remind yourself of the basics, and cherry pick the killer tips you’re going to use to leave a lasting impression on the audience.
Don’t settle for just getting by and following the same old boring formula. Take a chance, go for it, surprise your audience and blow them away.