One of the most important things to help make your presentation a success is confidence, which is of course what many of us are short of when we step into the spotlight.
We’ve taught thousands of individuals how to improve the way they present and we can safely say that there’s no such thing as a natural – some of us are better at it than others, but generally it’s hard work that makes the best performers LOOK like naturals. Winston Churchill is supposed to have spent 7 hours preparing every 40 minute speech he gave – the result was that he looked like a natural. A formal presentation training session is obviously a great way to help build your confidence, as we’ll give you the pointers, tips and techniques to help you understand what makes a great presentation, but it’s also about the opportunity to practice in front of camera (you can even do this at home in front of a mirror if, for example, time constraints mean that formal training isn’t an option for you). This practice helps you to test your content, or the notes you’ve written (we normally advise against having a full script, as it’s too tempting to just read directly from it), it helps you to become more familiar with it, thus being able to recite it, at least in part, and it also gives you the confidence that comes from trialling and preparing for being on stage.
So, apart from practise, what else can you do to ensure your presentation goes well? Recently Bob Geldof spoke at the SuperReturn conference in Berlin, where Bob spoke with gusto, for an hour, without using notes. He praised the positives of the private equity industry but also did his best to promote investment in Africa saying “I have learned that private equity, contrary to the Romney-esque debate in the United States at the moment, can be a major vehicle for positive change in this world”. Bob is chairman of a private equity firm, but he’s clearly still hugely passionate about Africa. If you can inject extra enthusiasm into your speech, it will up the tempo and help draw in your audience – if you seem bored or disinterested in your subject, you can’t blame your audience for being the same.
On the other hand, you can of course learn what not to do from some presenters too. Last week, reported as a ‘day of gaffes’ by Sky News, Sir Dave Richards, Premier League Chairman, managed to both embarrass himself and offend Fifa and Uefa, while making a speech at a sports security conference in Qatar. Sir Dave seemed to rant, saying; “England gave the world football” and even went so far as to exclaim; “For 50 years, we owned the game… we wrote the rules… Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said you’re liars and they actually stole it. It was called Fifa. Fifty years later, another gang came along called Uefa and stole a bit more.” The fact is that these comments should probably have never seen the light of day, but most certainly not in front of an audience that were very unlikely to sympathise. As if that wasn’t enough, later on in the event, Sir Dave slipped and fell into a pool – probably another thing that he ought to have avoided!
Making presentations tends not to be an easy task, but with the right preparation and practise you can give yourself an excellent chance of success – and should you need formal training, we are, of course, very keen to help!
Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – March 2012