At ZeroLight, we’re big believers in bringing your whole self to work, and that includes your aspirations and fears. One of the key areas for development a lot of people can identify with is presentation skills.
We decided to use presenting as the first skills development topic for our quarterly collaboration week in March. We had a presentation from our wonderful Creative Director, Helton Rosa, on how to put together an engaging presentation.
We also had a session run by two of ZeroLight’s best presenters, Jamie Hird, Customer Success Manager and Darren Jobling, our CEO. These sessions were well attended and something we all came out of the week realising was that we are all a little bit uncomfortable with the vulnerability presentations bring, even those people we view as the very best at it.
The best way to deal with this discomfort is to be prepared with a great presentation when the time arises!
So what are our top tips for an engaging and confident presentation?
Keep it simple
Stick to 3 or 4 points per slide and don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t reinvent the wheel, tell people what they need to know succinctly. ‘Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said’ (Dale Carnegie)
Use a font which is easy to understand, appropriately spaced and left aligned (you will incur the wrath of our Creative Director, Helton if you justify your text)
Use good assets
Use one impactful asset, don’t make the slide too busy. Use relevant internal photos or Adobe Stock, if you have access. Vision impresses people - use insights, share your vision and add data to illustrate your expertise.
Perfection isn’t required, failure is the key building block to success. We learn more from our failures, so try to embrace them. Take good care of your mental health, particularly in the run up to a presentation. Be sure to spend time on positive thoughts, don’t dwell on the negative.
Know your stuff and customise your presentation to your audience. Run through your deck and put it in a running order which makes you most comfortable. Use the speaker notes section, either a script or bullet points. Remember not to read each slide out though, find a memorable way to paraphrase. Practice, practice and then practice again!
People remember stories, start with a story which illustrates your point. 5 minutes in you’ll think it’s going really badly, hang in there - everyone is rooting for you. Don’t be afraid to be direct, people respect this - just make sure you’re not rude! Silence is golden and can be used to create impact if added at the right time.
Finally, remember that:
‘There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars’