Raising your game: Delivering presentations in a competitive world

Australia Publication May 2021

By Evan Blount, Senior Learning and Development Manager at Norton Rose Fulbright.

Presenters want to impart their extensive professional and commercial knowledge in a way that is helpful and memorable for our audience. Having an ability to inform, persuade, inspire (and even entertain!) when presenting goes a long way towards our people achieving this goal.

Virtual presentations have rapidly become part of the ‘new normal’ in the business world. The best presenters have adapted quickly and modified their approach to delivering presentations. Presenters want to have a positive impact, and to genuinely engage with their audience, no matter the format of their presentation (face to face or virtual).

Whatever format is used, there are some key factors to keep in mind:

1. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

  • Objective: What do I want to achieve from delivering the presentation? What do I want my audience to know or do afterwards?
  • Audience: Who are they, and how much do they already know? What do they want from me?
  • Structure: Consider a ‘hook’ or an ‘attention getter’ to kick-start the presentation. E.g. ask an impactful question; limit your content to a handful of key messages; repeat key content occasionally to increase knowledge retention; avoid a low-key conclusion by ending with something positive or striking/memorable. E.g. an image which sums up the theme, a humorous meme, a statistic, or a statement.

2. How will you create impact?

  • Voice: Practice your power, pitch and pace.
  • Verbal impact: Consider storytelling; ignite the imagination; use analogies.
  • Body language: Manage eye contact, facial expressions, posture and gestures to emphasise points.
  • Passion: Gain buy-in by showing genuine interest, passion and humour in the topic.

3. Should I use visual aids (e.g. PowerPoint)?

  • Not compulsory for impact – an audience comes to listen, not read.
  • Any visual aid should support your vocal message, not distract from it.
  • Avoid text-heavy slides and never-ending bullet points – aim to speak to/expand on shorter points, rather than long sentences.
  • If a slide can’t be read quickly, cut some text or break it up into two slides.
  • Consider whether an image or graph would be more impactful than text.

This small selection of tips has helped many presenters enhance their presentations. As has our final suggestion – always do at least one rehearsal with an objective observer!

If you would like to discuss how we could help your team with this, or another behavioural skillset, please do get in touch.

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