How Not to Cause Death by PowerPoint

Public speaking is a great way to build credibility with your target audiences, whether they are customers/clients, prospects or even referral sources. If you are like me, you find it helpful to have slides to refer to in your presentation.  I am not an “off the cuff” kind of girl!

One of the easiest platforms to use for creating a presentation is PowerPoint. This program helps you put together visuals that can help to get your point across.  While PowerPoint helps you with the visuals, you still have to get the words and delivery right. So, how do make a presentation that doesn’t cause a snooze-fest in your audience?

It’s really simple. It all comes down to three things: practice, practice, practice.

As appealing as it might be to do a presentation off the cuff, practicing allows you the opportunity to see beforehand what will work and what will not.  Of course, you don’t want to come off a robot, so how to do you find the balance?

Break Your Presentation Into Sections

Doing a complete run-through of your presentation can be daunting and it can make your presentation seem overly long and repetitive.  Break it into sections and work on each section until you have worked out the kinks.  You can do it like this:

  • Section One: Open and transition to point one
  • Section Two: Point one and transition to point two
  • Section Three: Point two and transition to point three
  • Section Four: Point three and transition to close
  • Section Five: Close and transition to Q&A

When you are able to present one section without using too many words or stumbling over your delivery, then you are ready to move on to the next section.

Recreate The Speaking Environment

If possible, practice in the room where you will be giving your presentation.  Doing that will allow you to make sure all of the equipment works and fix any issues with the room itself, such as temperature, acoustics, lighting, etc. ahead of time. In addition, being familiar with the space where you will give the presentation will help you to remember what to say and do and that type of familiarity will help you to give a better presentation.

Record Your Performance

Don’t cringe just yet.  Seeing or at least hearing your presentation will help with aspects of your presentation that you can control, such as word usage, disfluency patterns (i.e. saying “Umm”, “Like”, “Ah” “I mean”, etc.), cadence and speaking volume.  It is one thing to know what to say. But you also need know how to say it in order to make a good impression and deliver an effective presentation.

Solicit Feedback

Don’t cringe here, either.  Soliciting feedback will help to expose blind spots in your presentation.  Is there a misspelled word in your PowerPoint presentation? Are you gesturing too much/too little?  Having feedback can help you to improve your presentation in ways you wouldn’t be able to do on your own.

 Of course, you need the right kind of feedback. Ask someone who you can trust to give you honest feedback and specific tips that can improve your delivery. Ask for specific help in areas you can control, such as word usage, cadence, speaking volume.

Granted, giving presentations isn’t everyone’s forte.  Still, with practice you can make your point, educate your audience and hopefully leave them wanting to hear you speak again. Or even better, wanting to hire you!