Whether you are persuading colleagues, selling a client or energizing a team, the power of your presentation makes the difference between success and failure. And some of the newest instruments in your toolbox are digital, whether they are a PowerPoint visual on a large screen in front of one hundred people or a slideshow on your iPad during a one-to-one meeting with a client. The four stages below should be noted whenever you’re creating a digital presentation, whether it’s to the media, potential investors or members of your own team. They are your keys to a more meaningful, powerful presentation:
How does the topic relate to this particular audience? What is the purpose of your talk as it relates to the outcome you seek? Consider these questions as well as the audience’s level of understanding of the topic (are they better versed in the subject than you are?). When introducing technology to your presentation, use the gadget of your choice in a way that the audience can comfortably follow--preferably by using technology they are familiar with). For instance, if you are using an iPad in front of a client, ask them if they have an iPad or have used one. If they have, engage them in a short conversation about their device which will allow you to relate to one other. If they haven’t, proceed slowly and avoid changing pages quickly, which may confuse them.
Prepare your message to be positive and inspiring by structuring it with these three parts:
- The attention-getting opening - Use a question, make a startling statement, or relate a relevant incident to elicit the audience's interest. Depending on what device you’re using, you can add video or sound to draw your audience in, fast. Just make sure you’re using it for a real reason--and not just because you have the technology in front of you. If possible, send your digital presentation to your audience ahead of time so they can follow along with you. Spend a good chunk of your time on your opening: it makes up only 5 to 10 percent of your presentation, but if you lose people here, they’re not coming back.
- The key ideas - Your presentation should contain 4 to 6 different points that you must back up with evidence such as statistics, testimonials, demonstrations, and analogies. Make sure that the key ideas all support a coherent message. Use specific examples that relate to your audience, and if presenting to individuals, integrate their names. Use your digital device to create compelling visuals that make the data as interesting as possible. These key points should make up 80 to 85 percent of your presentation.
- The memorable closing - You can close by summarizing or restating the message or by throwing down a challenge to your audience--a call to action. A close that relates back to your opening can also be effective. Regardless of how you wrap up your presentation, be sure you tell your audience what action you want them to perform. The close should make up 5 to 10 percent of your presentation.
Review your content, rehearse it in front of a confidante and get feedback from them. Practicing will build both your enthusiasm and your confidence. Today, it’s easy to record yourself on your webcam or smartphone and play it back for an accurate self-critique. Make sure the presentation meets your time limits (including time for questions, if allowed). Watch for distracting mannerisms and other signs of nervousness, and work to contain those. And practice and tweak transitions so that they seamlessly draw the audience into the next segment. Remember: the best cure for nervousness is confidence, and confidence comes with practice.
Make a positive first impression by establishing eye contact with your audience if possible, introducing yourself and relaxing. You’ve practiced and built confidence, so the hard work is done! When speaking, be natural but remember to speak loudly and clearly. Slow down and emphasize important points, and pause before and after key points to set them apart. Make any technology you integrate part of your presentation, but don’t be beholden to it. If something goes wrong, skip to the next part of your online presentation (for instance, if a web page or PowerPoint slide isn’t loading, skip to the next one instead of stopping and losing your audience). Remember, you’re human and mistakes happen. They only become a black mar on your presentation if you let them. Finally, have fun and entertain--if you smile and enjoy sharing, your audience will naturally want to listen.
After your presentation, follow up with your audience by emailing them a copy of your digital presentation, outlining the key points that you presented. If you wish to continue a dialogue on the topic, encourage your audience to contact you directly for further discussion or explanation.