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5 Golden Rules to Improve Your Presentation Performance

Apr 10 2017

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One of PR's most important functions is to articulate and protect the brand identity. It’s a big job that pulls everything from crafting the brand narrative and demonstrating values via social responsibility, through managing a consistent brand voice, together under the PR umbrella.

Too frequently, this work is solely focused on written and public facing communications. But it shouldn’t be. Oral communications, in the form of business presentations and remarks made at meetings, are equally important. Statements delivered by people, who by virtue of their employment in an executive capacity believe they are prepared to speak on the brand’s behalf, can be difficult to manage and present a significant risk to the brand reputation.

Despite all their successes, many corporate executives are bad public speakers. They freeze, lack personality, speak too quickly, mumble, are unsure, too quiet, wispy or are otherwise, in some way, less than ideal during that new business meeting or shareholder presentation. Because they (most – not all) lack the requisite skills to professionally express themselves to important audiences, those with the potential to drive immediate and future business/organizational gains, may underperform at the most important moment.

That’s where the brand PR team, whether in house or agency, should come in. We know your brand voice, are trained in public communications and are trusted to deliver strong messages in tough situations. Who better to provide presentation training? This has always been a PR core offering, and should be part of a thriving PR future – especially in today’s social world, where an off-the-cuff comment can go viral in mere seconds!

Beyond practicing before you present, which really goes without saying, you must put these Five Golden Rules, Tips and Tricks to Improve your Presentation Performance to work.

  1. Speak with Conviction! Believe in what you’re saying and project that belief outwards. Spoken word poet and teacher, Taylor Mali says it best in the video below.

2. Have a Conversation with Your Audience! A presentation is fairly unnatural and can come across as though you’re trying to ‘sell’ your audience on something. This real, or perceived, inauthenticity can create distance between a speaker and their audience. On the other hand, a conversation is perfectly natural. We have them every day. When a presentation comes across as a conversation, the speaker can break down walls and form real connections.

3. Ditch the Cue Cards! Cue cards are a crutch we lean on to make sure we don’t miss out on delivering very important points. Unfortunately, they also make us look like we don’t know our stuff, which makes that conviction thing awfully hard. What does your body language say if you’re clutching cue cards in front of you, and peering down to read them. A strong presenter knows their stuff. You must practice enough to know what has to be said without unnecessary support.

4. Get in front of a Mirror! And practice your presentation posture! Body language is just as important as what you actually say. By practicing in a mirror, you’ll learn to present with your whole body – especially your hands and facial expressions. To immediately improve your presentation posture when standing, bend your knees a bit and lean forwards. And if you’re seated, sit on the very edge of your seat – good luck slouching!

5. Listen to the Audience's Eyes! Sure you’ve prepared a presentation that you need to get through. But you’re not presenting in a bubble. If there is something they’re responding to, or can’t look away from, do your best to give it to them. If you’re having a conversation (see #2), you’ll spot both the overt and subtle signs that you’re engaging your listeners.

Now, ready, set, go! If you apply these Five Golden Rules, Tips and Tricks, you won’t just be ready… you’ll be PR ready for your next presentation!

Hey, C-Suite, this one’s for you. If you’re too embarrassed to ask your PR team for help or, worse yet, don’t have a PR team (please contacts us today!), there’s still hope.

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