What makes a great presentation?

February 21, 2011

business presentationHow many times has this happened: You know you have to make a big presentation, so you spend days rehearsing and organizing all your information. Then, the time comes, and — you get flustered, stammer, and mess up your facts.

The Harvard Business Review addresses this very thing, concluding that we fumble and fluster when the presentation becomes about us, and not about our audience. When we focus on how we’re doing, instead of how the presentation is benefiting our clients, is when we stumble.

The author points out that you can never be 100% prepared for all the questions you could be asked at a presentation. But you can prepare for many possible ones. It also helps the client to trust you, she says:

In setting aside the script and focusing on the client’s bottom line, instead of our own, we lay the groundwork for a long-lasting rapport. Of course, it is essential that we are well prepared and know our material cold; however, knowledge alone is insufficient. Moving away from a scripted, pundit-style, one-size-fits-all message, we will certainly make mistakes. But, the only real mistake is thinking that these slip-ups equal failure. If we focus on the audience, not ourselves, whether in a one-on-one meeting or a packed auditorium, we’ll deliver a crowd-pleasing, even praiseworthy, performance every time: because success is ultimately about connection, not perfection.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you prepared a presentation, gotten nervous, and fumbled through it? Do you have any other advice for situations such as this?

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

Image courtesy of nightthree via Flickr
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