Everyone knows that first impressions are important, especially when you are searching for a job. You want to come across as professional and capable to potential employers. This is especially important if you are an independent contractor. You may be soliciting contracts and making bids left and right. Perhaps you are trying to land the next big contract and have been invited to give a presentation to company executives.
Many contractors and hopeful employees play it safe when making presentations. They want to maintain a sense of professionalism. Unfortunately, all too many candidates equate being professional with being boring and dry. Keep the following tips in mind when making a big business presentation. Remember that engaging your audience should be your top priority.
- Use software programs and technologies with which you are comfortable.
- Highlight the most interesting aspects of the topic or proposal that you are presenting.
- Engage your audience throughout your presentation by inviting questions. If your audience is timid, ask questions and encourage them to share their ideas.
- Include graphics that are pertinent to your presentation and that clearly add value.
- If you are using presentation software, choose a clear font. Use no more than three fonts throughout your presentation.
- Provide your audience with an outline for your presentation. You may want to attach charts and graphics that support or clarify your points.
- Speak clearly and with expression. Your audience is more likely to be excited about your presentation if you are excited about your presentation too.
- Do not rely on presentation software to do your job. Use visual aids if you must but be sure that your speech is engaging. Presentation slides should support your points, not make them.
- Avoid using cutesy graphics. They are generally irrelevant and may make you seem less credible.
- Eschew fancy fonts. You cannot be sure that everyone in your audience will be able to read cursive or decorative fonts. Stick with standard fonts such as Times New Roman and Helvetica.
- Try not to go off on a tangent. You may find one portion of your presentation particularly interesting. While you should definitely devote time to what excites you, check to be sure that you are giving a balance presentation.
- Avoid attaching confusing charts or graphics to your presentation handouts. If a chart is not absolutely essential, it is best to leave it out.
Do not be afraid to modify your presentation if necessary. Perhaps you notice your audience members yawning or staring off into space. Skip ahead a few slides or invite audience participation. Showing potential employers that you are engaging and adaptable is of the utmost importance.
Mistakes You Should Avoid during Presentation
Giving a presentation at work can be a nerve-wracking experience. Most people aren’t a fan of public speaking at the best of times and having to do so in front of coworkers or superiors can make things even worse. Fortunately, while giving a presentation may not always be easy, by following a few simple steps, you can decrease the chances of your next presentation turning out badly. Here are 5 mistakes you should strive to avoid the next time you are charged with giving a presentation at work.
- You don’t really know what you’re supposed to be presenting. This is the most commonly seen error when it comes to making a presentation at work. It is only natural to avoid things you don’t want to do, but when you know you have a presentation coming up, you should do everything you can to be well prepared to give it.
This doesn’t mean memorizing every book remotely related to your presentation, as this would be impossible and probably not helpful to most people. It does mean learning about your topic enough to speak eloquently and fluently about it and having a good idea of what’s on your slides and what you’re going to talk about when you’re in front of everyone. The old saying that proper preparation prevents poor performance may be a tongue twister, but it’s as true today as it ever was. Know your material ahead of time.
There are good leaders who actively guide and bad leaders who actively misguide. Hence, leadership is about persuasion, presentation and people skills.
- You forget to do more than read the slides. A second commonly seen presentation error is not doing much more than reading the slides you made for the presentation itself. It’s great that you took the time to make those, but unfortunately, part of public presentation is the human element, which means you need to interact with the people you’re presenting information to.
If you do nothing more than read to them, they’re probably going to fall asleep unless you’re reading material that’s far more exciting than what most people present during presentations. Know your materials enough to speak about them without having your eyes glued to your slides, and you’ll be seen as a better presenter in no time.
- You present far more information than necessary. This common presentation error is related to slide reading and often occurs in people who don’t have the first problem described in this article. People who know a lot about their topics have a tendency to ramble on about them or speak too quickly to explain the big pictures of what they’re talking about. Make sure you only present the information that’s necessary and relevant to your topic; save the extras for question time at the end.
- You use a font that is far too small for anyone to read. Finally, a common complaint by audiences that sit through presentations is that the fonts used in the slides for the presentations are too small to read. Not everyone has perfect vision and using larger fonts will also help keep you from putting too much information on your slides or overly relying on them.
Need More Useful Tips?
- Make an emotional appeal instead of a logical one. This is one of the most overlooked elements of presentation, yet it is one of the most important ones. People are not swayed by logic as a rule; rather, they are swayed by emotion. If you’ve ever been in an argument and stubbornly continued to defend your point in the light of overwhelming evidence against it, you understand this principle on an innate level.
- Call people to action instead of browbeating them into agreement. Motivating people instead of domineering them goes hand in hand with making an emotional appeal rather than a logical one. When presenting information for the purpose of persuasion, focus on conveying information in a way that inspires people to do something, rather than in a way that makes people wish you would stop talking. The better people feel while you speak, the more they will remember when you’re done.