The main focus of this article is to give pointers and tips to employees who may have to deliver a presentation.
Why a Presentation?
There are many reasons why you may be required to deliver a presentation, for example, as part of an interview or assessment process, to provide various stakeholders such as your manager with information updates on a product or service or perhaps you are asked to explain to your peer group how you made various accomplishments. It does not matter what the reason is, but one thing is certain you are going to have to talk in front of an audience!
Preparation is vital and the first things you should consider are:
Do you understand the subject of your presentation have you researched it?
What type of audience are you addressing, for example peers or executives?
Does your intended audience have an understanding of the subject?
Is it possible your intended audience may have preconceptions or views on your intended subject?
What is the best way to convey your message?
What style of language will you adopt?
Which non-verbal cues will you use?
Is there a time limit, do you have time for the use of visual aids?
Think ‘BME’, Beginning, Middle and End!
The Beginning the Introduction!
As well as the obvious who you are and why you are there, think of a statement or short paragraph, something that will grab the attention of your audience, it should be short but have enough impact that they want to hear more!
Let us look at some examples of opening statements, say your presentation is about bullying in the workplace. We could start by ‘Today I am here to talk about bullying in the work place…’ or ‘Bullying is an issue of great importance to all employees…’ It is true that both of these openings are direct, but they don’t really capture attention now, do they?
What if instead we began with:
‘Your useless, stupid’
‘I want to punch you in the face’
‘I hear you had an affair with your boss’
Then pause for a few seconds and add ‘These are all forms of bullying’ and here is another which can be even more damaging to an individual’. Remain silent for around 10 seconds before stating ‘Ignoring People’ and then continue with your presentation.
We can see that the above approach has a much more dramatic effect, yet it isn’t loud or objectionable. It is much more likely to captivate your audience, remember though when delivering an opening like this you don’t need to shout or even raise your voice though you should talk loud enough to be both heard and appear confident. Now we are ready to move on:
Briefly summarize the content of what you will be talking about
State any rules for your presentation, for example will you be answering questions during the presentation or afterward?
At this point we are ready for the main body of the presentation or the ‘middle bit’
The middle bit – the Main Body
This is going to contain the main focus of your presentation and depending on how long it is, normally between 2 and 4 points should be sufficient, each point should be split as evenly as possible in terms of allocated time, therefore if you have a 20 minute presentation to deliver you would be looking at 5 each for 4 points.
It is absolutely vital that you understand your audience:
Do they have detailed knowledge on the subject you are presenting?
Is this new knowledge?
Are they likely to be responsive to your presentation; is the subject something they may not wish to hear?
What is the purpose of the presentation is it to invite your audience to look for a solution or are you going to propose one?
Let’s look at an example:
Presentation Purpose: To persuade the audience to support an employee satisfaction initiative.
Our Theme: Satisfied employees are happier employees, they are more interested in their work, employee attrition and absence will reduce, profit will increase as will customer satisfaction due to improved performance metrics.
(1) It is difficult to retain staff; the most common reason for leaving is boredom
(2) Staff absence is high employees do not feel motivated
(3) High business costs for training, hiring temporary workers to backfill absence and attrition
Our Proposed Solution
(1) Introduce a method of collecting anonymous feedback from employees, such as where they think they could help more and what they think of career development opportunities.
(2) Introduce a recognition scheme, rewarding employees appropriately
(3) Ensure a process of regular and positive feedback is provided at both team and individual level
As you can see we have elected to have three points with solutions, you need to take this into account when allowing for time constraints, in other words if you are allowing 30 minutes to discuss the main body of your presentation you would need to allow time to discuss each issue and proposed solution. In this example there are 6 points, 3 issue based and 3 solution based, therefore we can allow a maximum of 5 minutes for each.
Our Conclusion, the finish
This is by far the easiest part of our presentation and should take no more than a couple of minutes.
Reiterate our objective
Summarize the benefits
Use short sentences make it punchy
Some hints and tips
When you prepare always ensure you understand your audience, their knowledge of the subject
Ensure you have a BME, beginning, middle and end
The structure of your presentation should be easy to follow; it should flow from one part to the other
Make an impact at the beginning, try and use some creativity, you know you can do it!