Qualities of a great presentation

Great presentations are rare. Presenters often fail to make an impact, not because of what they're presenting but because of how they're delivering it.

An excellent presentation is about how well you engage your audience. It consists of three specific qualities.

  • A balance between structure and improvisation.
  • Generosity. Offering your audience something of value.
  • Relatable.
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To deliver a presentation that will engage your audience, you need to balance structure (preparation) and improvisation (flexibility).

  • Structure. Think about the most pressing concern of your audience, and how you can best address it. Then use that to organise your message logically. (e.g., problem, opportunity, solution, feasibility, recommendation, etc.)
  • Improvisation. Things will come up during your presentation. You must be able to respond to your audience in the moment.

Address these two key questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish by delivering your presentation? If you are presenting a product to a customer, do you want to make the sale to meet your quota, or do you believe your product will make their life better? Any goal that does not serve your audience or does not offer them something valuable should be secondary.
  • What are you willing to do about it? Place yourself in your audience's shoes and share your message clearly and understandably.

Voltaire said that "Perfection is the enemy of the good." This is true when it comes to presentations and probably the biggest obstacle.

More than anything, your audience wants to connect with you as a person. To accomplish this:

  1. Familiarise yourself with your presentation, but don't memorise it.
  2. Practice just enough to feel confident that you know your structure, the major points, and overall flow.
  3. If you make a mistake, don't apologise or act flustered; just collect yourself and continue.

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