My work with the South Carolina Federal Credit Union has allowed me to speak all over the world. I have seen hundreds of speakers and presentations. When you think about presentations, do you picture a speaker behind a podium going over PowerPoint slides? A nervous student shuffling through flashcards in front of their class?
Or do you picture an onstage presence, a powerhouse of ideas influencing people and making their lives better?
Presentation skills matter, both personally and professionally. And the art of presentation skills cannot be understated. How we communicate our ideas to the world is an essential component of success.
When you circulate an idea to two or more of your colleagues, you are presenting. When you describe a recommendation to your boss or attempt to motivate a group of employees to work together, you are presenting.
The fact is, whether you are a young professional or a seasoned expert, you are continually presenting – which is why presentation skills are so vitally important.
Here are some strategies for creating a presentation that moves your audience to action and leaves a lasting impression.
Building an Impactful Presentation
At the center of any presentation is your key message. It doesn’t matter if you make frequent eye contact with your audience, use energetic hand gestures, or keep your voice at a balanced cadence. If your message does not convey what you intend to, your presentation has failed.
Luckily, presenting well is a teachable skill, and I always say, “you don’t have to know everything, you just need to be teachable.”
Here are six steps you can take to ensure your message will be received effectively.
1.) Frame Your Message Accordingly
Consider the audience and how they will hear it. What background knowledge do they have on the subject or situation that influences how they listen to what you say? What’s essential for them to hear? Framing helps you outline your presentation and keeps your message on point. It sets the foundation for a lasting impact.
2.) Posture the Message
Before you launch your message, socialize it first. Speak your ideas as concepts when you’re around your colleagues. Listen to what others have to say about your message and be mindful about absorbing viewpoints you hadn’t initially considered.
Picture your message as a seedling. When you socialize your message, you’re planting the seeds that will become your presentation, or a tree using this metaphor. The more you circulate your message with others before formally presenting it, the stronger your roots will be.
3.) Ensure a Trusted Message By Decoding Your Audience
As a leader delivering a message, you have the responsibility to make sure your message is not only heard but understood. After your presentation, spend some time decoding your audience to see if your message was truly absorbed.
At the end of your presentation, open the discussion up for Q&A. Ask your open-ended audience questions such as “What thoughts do you have?” or “What would you like to add to what I presented?” Initially, avoid yes or no questions to create an open dialogue and give you essential feedback to further build a strong message.
4.) Tie Your Message To An Event
Tie the timing of delivering your message to an event whenever possible. There are many ways to accomplish this. Is there a weekly meeting you could use to begin socializing your message? Is there an upcoming deadline or goal that you could reference to motivate your team? Use this as an opportunity to solidify your message in your audience’s mind.
By tying your presentation to an event, it makes your message easier to understand because there is context conveyed. Now your message is more timely and actionable in the minds of your audience and will help leave a lasting impression.
5.) Measure the Success of Your Message
A presentation shouldn’t run like a TV show that fades out of memory after the end credits have rolled. Effective presentations will teach, inspire, and empower. Your audience should have the knowledge and motivation to go out and carry your message long after your presentation has ended.
6.) Be Honest and Authentic
An audience will forgive you if you stumble over a few words or lose your train of thought. However, if your presentation lacks truth, they may not be so forgiving. The most crucial part of an excellent presentation is that you are honest and convey your message with authenticity.
Effective presentation skills are an essential part of personal and professional success. What are your go-to tips for a successful presentation? And, what was the best presentation you were ever a part of and why?