5 Timeless Tips:

How To Give an Effective Presentation

‘Be brief, be sincere, be seated’ – FDR
Many years ago, I was asked to give a sales presentation to a large freight logistics company.  I planned and practiced for 2 weeks in advance and knew every technical detail of the new series of gearboxes we were trying to sell to the client.

6 Great Ways To Start Any Presentation

Click the link below to download a copy of this EBook.  It will help you begin every talk in the right place for the right audience.  Don’t wait!  Click the link.
I had all the stats and facts about each of the boxes in the series, from the gear ratios and maximum starting loads of each box in almost every conceivable situation to the various gear change patterns for varying load configurations and the challenges each of my competitors were faced with.  In the days before PowerPoint, I had created complex diagram cards with cutaway views and sample components for them to physically touch.
I knew all of the possible answers to any potential problems they could raise about wear patterns on the shift turret and what each wear pattern on the linkages would indicated.  I was ready in all aspects and was planning to give them both barrels of my knowledge shotgun.
I recall walking into the boardroom with 9 middle-aged men sitting around the table on that extremely hot January day in 1989.  I remember very little of the next 3 hours as I blow them away with my impressive knowledge.  By the time I finished, the 3 hours had disappeared, as had my voice and the deal!  I had blown them away completely.  No questions.  No comments, except ‘Thanks, but don’t call us, we may call you.’
As I walked out to my car completely exhausted and devastated by the experience, one of the directors who had been in the boardroom stopped me.

“Vic,” he said, Its not your product knowledge which killed the deal for you.  That was good and impressive for about the first 10 minutes.  It was the fact you nearly killed us, which killed the deal.  You overwhelmed us with details we did not need.  Confused us with technical details which should only be brought out when there is a problem.  You did not give us one solid idea or concept to hang our collective hats on.  Take this piece of advise.  Next time you plan for a presentation think of the advice of Franklin D Roosevelt.  He said, Be brief, Be sincere, Be seated.  Particularly remember to be brief.’

I never forgot that lesson and have tried to apply it in every presentation I do.
So here are 5 timeless tips of how you can give an effective presentation with FDR’s quote in mind:
  • Frame your Presentation with Stories.

There is simply no way to give a killer presentation if you don’t have something worth talking about.  When I think about any of the really good speakers I have listened to, the great presentations I have been to, the talks and lectures which have made an impact on me, they have all been framed with great stories which are built around the main idea.
I have a love for the history of the Second World War because of the facts being framed in stories by 2 very important men in my life was I growing up.  Firstly, my grandfather who had an incredible ability to turn what was ultimately a routine ‘nothing happen’ patrol into an adventure worthy of an adventure filled novel, with magnificent heroes and death-defying exploits.
Secondly, my history teacher when I was 10 years old at Brenthurst Primary School.  He too had the ability to tell incredibly vivid stories in great detail, which had us hanging on every word, while learning the most mundane and boring facts.

6 Great Ways To Start Any Presentation

Click the link below to download a copy of this EBook.  It will help you begin every talk in the right place for the right audience.  Don’t wait!  Click the link.
No matter what your presentation is about, frame it with well-told stories.  Allow your audience to see the world differently because you framed your presentation well.
  • Plan your Delivery to Meet the Audiences Expectations and the Outcomes you want.

There are a number of different ways in which you can deliver your presentation from using a completely written out script to bullet points on cue cards or memorising your presentation to deliver it verbatim.
The more you are able to practice your material, the better you will be able to deliver a natural sounding, unscripted presentation, which has a more conversational and inviting appeal to it.  Reading directly from a prepared script, gives your presentation a mechanical, cold and nervous feel, while delivering it parrot fashion makes you look dispassionate and automated.
Cue cards can work to keep you on track and focus on your time frames, while managing the flow of your presentation by constantly referring to your slides can create a disconnect with you audience.  Whichever method you choose to deliver your message, keep your audience in mind and focus your preparation and delivery on meeting their expectations.
  • Own your Real Estate

For many inexperienced presenters or speakers, the physical act of standing in front of a group of people, whether in a boardroom context or on a stage in front of a few hundred people, is the most difficult part of giving a presentation.
One technique for overcoming your nervousness is to stand still.  Don’t move around or try to shift your weight from side to side.  These efforts often show up your nervousness more than standing still because of the effort required to remember to move.  These acts can be a major distraction for your audience rather than adding value.
Stand in one place and allow yourself to find friendly eyes around the room.  ‘Friendly eye’ are those people in the audience who through their actions and the look in their eyes, encourage you and want you to succeed.  They will be nodding in agreement at the points you are making and smiling at your weak jokes.
In every audience there will be a number of friendly eyes, so find 3 – 5 that you can return to regularly throughout your presentation as they will be great assets during your delivery.  Standing in one place makes it easier and more instinctive to return to those friendly eyes.
  • Plan your Media

Presentations which contain various forms of media can be some of the best and some of the worst presentations you will give or attend!  Plan your presentation for excellence by planning to deliver it without any form of aid, high and low tech gadgetry or media component which is available today.
Once you have designed and practiced your presentation without media and are satisfied with the high quality of your presentation, then design and add your PowerPoint slides, video or other media.  This will help prevent you from reading your slides and will focus on the content of the presentation rather than on the media.
Remember, in most situations, less is better than more when it comes to visuals, media, etc. They can be a great help but often and equally a great hinderance.  Allow them to enhance your story and presentation, rather than being the story themselves.
  • ‘Be brief, be sincere, be seated.’

Former US President Franklin D Roosevelt said regarding public speaking, ‘Be brief, be sincere, be seated.’  This is for me, one of the most profound statements about public speaking ever made and should be the mantra of anyone standing up to speak in any context.
As a businessman, I have attended my fair share of networking groups, conferences, training events, debates and company dinners.  Over the years, I have so often encountered those people who speak in a public forum but just don’t know how to land their 60-second introduction, their presentation or keynote.  Or that group of presenters who take an hour to say what they could have said in 15 minutes, by continually rehashing what they have already said.
Be brief!  Don’t be the one who puts people off, makes them feel uncomfortable or causes them to fall asleep.  Prepare carefully, say what needs to be said well, with eloquence.
Be sincere!  Just be you.  There is no need to try and emulate your favourite YouTube speaker or anyone else.  Just be you and speak from your heart with passion.
Be seated!  Give the audience what they need and no more.  In your preparation, remove anything which is superfluous and leave it on the cutting room floor.  And then get out of the way.
So here are 5 things you can do to give an effective presentation, whether it is a sales presentation to a board of directors, an end of the financial year report to shareholders or a keynote presentation to 500 or a 1000 people in an auditorium.

6 Great Ways To Start Any Presentation

Click the link below to download a copy of this EBook.  It will help you begin every talk in the right place for the right audience.  Don’t wait!  Click the link.
If you would like to know more about our Presentation Skills courses which are delivered regularly in the UK and other countries, please call +44 1392 980258 or email me directly vic@theaudaciouscompany.com.
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