Tips and tricks for a successful presentation

One of the key advantages of working in the IT&C industries is that if you are very good at what you do (whether it’s programming, project management, software testing or business analysis) at some point in the future you will be put in a position where you have to make a presentation. It could be for the client, for your colleagues or at an industry event.

One of the key advantages of working in the IT&C industries is that if you are very good at what you do (whether it’s programming, project management, software testing or business analysis) at some point in the future you will be put in a position where you have to make a presentation. It could be for the client, for your colleagues or at an industry event.

Most people tend to look at these situations not as an opportunity but as something to be feared. Speaking in public is not something that comes naturally for most of us due to various reasons which are too many to be talked about in this article. But rest assured that just like any other major endeavor there are tactics and best practices that when used properly can help reduce your anxiety level and improve the quality of your presentations.

So below are a couple of tips that will help you take your presentations to the next level:

  • Sketch it out
Most large companies suffer from the PowerPoint syndrome. Every meeting and presentation has to be accompanied by a PowerPoint if it is to be considered useful and good. While this is not a bad thing in and of itself it does mean that when planning for a presentation most people tend to start with the PowerPoint – which is not the right way to do it.

The first thing you have to do is think about the objective of the presentation. Do you want to inform people or do you want them to take an action? Are you looking to make a sale or just to help some new colleagues learn about the internal systems they will be working with? A clear objective is the first step towards a successful presentation. Based on this you can then start to sketch out the main points and how you will present them.

  • Practice it
One of the main challenges people have when it comes to presentations is how to overcome the emotions that come along with it. The answer is that you can never truly make them go away but you can diminish them. And you do this by practicing your presentation. It does require time and energy, which is why most people don’t do it. And why so many of their presentations fail to achieve their objective.

Practice your presentation at least three times, preferably with an audience (similar to the one you will be conducting your presentation in front of). They can be your colleagues, your friends and even your significant other. The more time you spend practicing a presentation the less nervous you will be when delivering it.
One quick word of advice though is that you never learn your presentation by heart, like a script or a poem. The purpose of practicing it is to raise your confidence, make sure you go through all the important ideas you sketched out before and achieve your objective.

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  • Make it SEXI
SEXI is short for State, Explain, Example and Impact and it should be the model for each of the main ideas you want to use in your presentation. When working on it most people leave their ideas at the level of a statement – meaning that there are no examples or evidence to back them up. Which will decrease the likelihood of you achieving your objective, whether it is to inform or convince people to act.

So for example if you are trying to convince your team that you should adopt a new technology you can simply say: “This technology is better than the one we currently use.” which is just a statement or you can use the SEXI model and say “The technology I am proposing will reduce the time required to run tests on the software and will also improve the clarity of the results. I have read case studies and talked to some colleagues from other departments who have implemented it and there was a 25% reduction in the time required to run tests and a 30% increase in the accuracy of the tests.”

Examples, studies, research or results show that what you say is true and showing what the impact will be helps you “sell” the benefits to your audience.

So make sure you keep the advice above in your mind when preparing for your future presentations.

Alexandru Gheorghe
Soft skills trainer

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