Tips for a Powerful Presentation

 In Blog

By: Clark Jenkins

One of the many things I love about my role with ICC is that I am frequently in a position of continuously learning. This typically takes the shape by way of a presentation from a diverse group of affiliations that I am fortunate to be a member. At ICC, we are constantly striving to bring exciting and relevant content to the business leaders within our community through our own presentations and events. As a presenter, and as a member of the audience, here is my view on what it takes to deliver a powerful presentation.

Just Say No to PowerPoint:
Certain presenting “tools” will immediately disengage an attendee. I’m sure that I am not the only one that feels this way. Too often, presenters rely so heavily on their PowerPoint notes that the presentation feels more like a bad college lecture. As a presenter, we need to be so comfortable with the material that we do not need PowerPoint at all. Think of PowerPoint as an overhead projector or a BetaMax player. It has the same appeal. It’s exhausting for the audience. Instead, put your notes on an iPad and leave it at the podium. Use it if you get stuck. Your audience will be much more attentive when your presentation is alive.

Every good presentation starts with an icebreaker. It disarms the audience as well as gets the conversational juices flowing. It can be something as simple as Seth Godin’s ritual of having the audience sing the alphabet. As ridiculous as it sounds, everyone is laughing. I have also witnessed an attendee round of rock-paper-scissors. Fun, but it can be a bit time consuming depending upon the size of your audience. There are hundreds of great icebreakers, just make sure that it is at the start of your presentation.

Know Your Audience:
To connect with your audience, you need to understand why your topic is important to them. What do they expect to learn from the presentation? It is also important to know the level of knowledge they have about your topic so that you can present the information with the correct tone to keep people interested and engaged. There is nothing more insulting than to present basic information to a highly knowledgeable audience, and conversely, speak at too high of a level for a novice audience.

Sell the Story Not the Product:
A powerful presentation will always involve great storytelling. People are naturally drawn to stories that are authentic. Remember to showcase the value or support the integrity of what it is that you are presenting. This is the best way to win over your audience yet it is often the most overlooked. We find it a lot easier to remember what other people have said if they tell it as a story. We learn from these stories, as others learn from the stories we tell.

Keep It Interactive:
Interaction doesn’t come by accident – it’s up to the speaker to frame their presentation to encourage audience participation. People will pay attention if they know that at some point, they will have to participate. And providing the audience the opportunity to interact with each other adds a peer learning dimension to a presentation. This will help keep them paying attention and coming up with questions they want to ask you. The trick here is to balance the interaction so that you don’t leave too much time that you lose the room.

That’s a Wrap:
Be respectful of other’s time and make sure that you end your presentation on time or even a few minutes early. The surefire way to immediately alienate a room full of potential prospects is to go over the expected allotment of time. Leave yourself time to answer questions from the audience. Make sure that your audience knows how to contact you should they want to continue your conversation after the presentation. Avoid the urge to sell your company or product. Your strong presentation will drive new business. Finally, thank the audience for their time and participation and be the last one to leave the room after it is over.


Clark Jenkins is Vice President for ICC, an OI Global Partner, and is passionate about creating brand awareness and building lasting relationships within the Cincinnati business community. To connect with Clark follow him on Twitter at @clarkajenkins or LinkedIN.


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