16 Presentation Rules You Never Break!

Have you ever experienced Presentation sickness?

It may be while attending a boring, long presentation…..

OR

While delivering presentation to uninterested audience…..

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Presenting in the consulting engagement can be a challenging task. Clients have high expectations. Consultants are expected to know their stuff, present professionally and manage client expectations. If you are presenting make sure that you never break following rules:

  1. Never be on time: Instead reach the venue, well before time. Allow enough time to check seating arrangement for your audience, set-up your desk, test multimedia (projectors, laptops, speakers etc.), test whiteboard/flip charts, check stationary requirements, prepare cup of tea/coffee, warm-up your hands; stand at front of the room to shake hands with your audience. Welcome them with a big smile!
  2. Never skip introduction: Introduction is key! Prepare icebreakers; try to release tension in the room with some interactive activity. If after the introduction, you notice a shift in body language of your audience, you have done well. Observe if their bodies are now more open, they are now leaning back and still active, smiling, shoulders down, hand and arms on the table, they are looking at you as a seeker.
  3. Never skip ground rules: Tell your attendees that you are in charge. Set rules for breaks, mobile phones, asking questions etc. Tell evacuation procedure and location of facilities (kitchen, toilets etc.)
  4. Never present without agenda: Set and share clear agenda with attendees. Keep a track of agenda as you go during the presentation. If anyone (including you) is off topic, refer to agenda and get back on track.
  5. Never skip objective: Have a clear objective in mind for each presentation. Objective is generally a one-liner statement that tells everyone ‘Why we are here and what we will take away after the presentation is complete?’
  6. Never use fancy terms: Clients may not know industry/system acronyms and concepts. Share common vocabulary. Try to use client specific terms and concepts to explain your point.
  7. Never stop listening: Remember; if you are planning to tell what you have prepared for, then your physical presence is not required. It may be better to record your presentation and send video to your audience. The only reason you and your audience makes an effort to meet is that your audience expects you to interact. So, never stop listening to your audience. Do not just listen to words, feel the energy in room, observe body language of your audience and listen to silence!
  8. Never stick to your chair: It may get too boring of everyone. Instead, where appropriate use whiteboard to explain concepts. Engage audience is some activity and move around in the room. Remember; you are the in charge!
  9. Never refer to your audience by “You guys”: It is a bad word! When you use ‘You guys’ to refer to your audience, all of the sudden, you separate yourself from your audience. It sounds unprofessional. Instead, use client’s company name to refer to them as a group.
  10. Never refer using “He/She” by pointing figures: This is bad practice. Use names. People love their names. Use their names as much as possible. We all love it!
  11. Never have notification pop-ups: Do not let your audience see unnecessary information and distraction on the projector. Stop all notifications (email, Internet Messaging etc.)
  12. Never continue after 45 minutes: Our attention span is shot. So, always plan for frequent breaks, engage your audience in some physical activities, do recaps, ask questions, answer questions. Try to break the cycle of throwing continuous information to your audience.
  13. Never present without parking lot: While you are presenting there will be distractions (Things that are not on agenda, things that you want to avoid due to any reason, things that you do not know, things where you cannot get consensus among the stakeholders etc.) Always have a Parking lot to park all of these distractions and get back on track. Parking lot can be electronic or on white board or even card wall. You should own the Parking lot. At the end of your session, inform everyone next actions on items parked on the Parking lot.
  14. Never present without trial: I have done that in past. The slides look brilliant on my laptop. However, when I project slides on the Projector, colour scheme of diagrams appear very dull, fonts colour and size was unreadable. Always test your slides on the projector before actual presentation.
  15. Never skip conclusion: This is the part when everything come together and your audience prepare to pack-up and leave. Conclusion should be a blast! Full of energy! Reiterate your objective and agenda of the session, recommend next steps, gather feedback (if appropriate), answer any pending queries and close the session with grace.
  16. Never finish late: Your time is important and so does of your audience. Always finish on time. The last thing you want to see is that audience starts leaving for other commitments while you are still presenting.

What is your experience presenting in consulting environment? Share your experience and lessons learnt!

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