Be human

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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Communication

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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.

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.

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.

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RELATED IDEAS

Connecting with an audience through a screen

Most of us have switched to working primarily online since March, and the initial excitement of virtual happy hours is long gone.

When having a video conference, keep in mind that you are talking to a group of individuals who are sitting at home alone at their computers. They have every temptation and opportunity to multitask.

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IDEAS

The Data Scientist presentation style

The Data Scientist uses data, analytics, facts, and figures to make his point and persuade the audience. 

Pros: This presentation style delivers data, information and analysis and will almost never be filled with fluff.

Cons: an audience that doesn’t want analytics and searches emotional connection will lose interest quickly.

Before You Give A Presentation
  • Walk the stage. It is good to get a feel for the stage because it means you can establish a sense of ownership of the space, which will increase your confidence.
  • Check the equipment to avoid minor mishaps.
  • Know where you are sitting and use it to your advantage. People take 3 - 7 seconds to form an opinion of you.
  • Your performance starts the moment you step onto the stage, not with your first line. Your audiences want you to be awesome because they made an effort to see you.

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