What makes a presentation look and feel professional; the clothes you wear, the colour scheme of your slides, or the ease with which you present the material? Which aspect of your presentation is the most important? Is there an area where you can cut corners?
Honestly, no, there’s not. All aspects are equally important when it comes to pulling off a memorable, professional presentation. No detail is too small to consider. If you want to present yourself professionally, you must do the following:
Prepare Your Materials
A professional presentation begins with professional materials. Make sure your slides and handouts are all designed appropriately. Avoid embellishments and designs that may detract from your message. This includes flowers, glitter, and brightly coloured text. Instead, create your materials using a sedate colour scheme along with appropriate graphics. The goal is to convey your message simply and effectively without overwhelming the senses.
Ask for Feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your friends, co-workers, and superiors. When you get invested in a vision and project, it’s difficult to look at your work objectively. A fresh set of eyes goes a long way in helping point out potential issues with your presentation.
Edit Your Slides and Handouts
Many business documents, including emails, reports, and invoices, contain errors. And they’re hard to ignore. Some are laughable, while others are catastrophic, such as a misplaced decimal on an expense report. Regardless of how serious the mistake, typing errors and spelling mistakes attract attention, but it’s the wrong type of attention.
If you want to appear professional, you must proofread and edit your documents until you are satisfied that they are 100 per cent free from error. A simple mistake on a slide or handout could leave a lasting, negative impression on your audience.
Take a Public Speaking Course
If you have a bad track record for presentations, you might want to think about taking a presentation course. A training course will help you learn the process of putting together a professional presentation, as well as how to present it to your audience. The tone of your voice and your delivery can make or break your presentation, as can nerves. A perfected presentation will require specific communication skills, of which you will learn when speaking with the professionals involved in the course.
If you want to come off as a professional, you have to know your presentation like the back of your hand. There’s no such thing as too much practice. Go over your presentation dozens of times by yourself and in front of others. You can also ask your company if you can do a trial run in your conference room with your department attending as your audience. A professional run through will help you identify and fix possible problems before the real thing.
Plan Your Look
While you should look professional every day, you really want to step up your game on presentation day. Be sure to dress for your audience. In most cases, a well-tailored suit does the trick. Do not wear too much jewellery, as it can be distracting. Also, make sure all of the details come together. You never know what your audience will zero in on, so you have to look flawless.
Don’t Succumb to Nerves
On the day of the presentation, don’t let your nerves get the better of you. If you have a lot of nervous energy before the meeting, take a brisk walk to work the jitters out of your system. You might also want to try deep breathing and/or meditation to calm your spirit.
Great salesmen all have one thing in common: they are extremely confident in themselves and their product. Think of a presentation as a sales pitch. You have to believe in what you’re selling and get others to as well. You can only do so by exuding confidence during your delivery.
Encourage Open Communication
A professional presentation includes a question and answer segment. You can hold all questions until the end, or allow questions between segments. It’s up to you how you do it, but you should always encourage questions from the audience. Your audience may not be able to see your vision fully without asking clarifying questions, so never get annoyed with too many questions. Your success may depend on your answers.
End on a High Note
All presentations should end on a high note, a call to action or something else that gets the juices flowing. However you decide to end your presentation, make sure it’s memorable. Your audience is more likely to remember the end of your presentation than the beginning anyway. So, take full advantage of those final seconds.
Giving professional presentations takes dedication and lots of practice. If you feel that your presentations could use a little help, follow the above tips.