Effective presentation skills are a must to maintain your professional reputation, convince an audience of an important message or win a client.
In a recent article published in USA Today, Matt Eventoff, owner of Princeton Public Speaking states that presentations involving more than one person incur several issues:
“We have become very dependent on PowerPoint,” he says. “But it’s just a tool. Too many teams are relying on them or their ‘pitch books.’ They put all their time into those and literally have no time left to practice how they’ll present it.”
While one or two members might practice their information, failing to work together beforehand often spells disaster, he says.
Or a lack of preparation might mean PowerPoint glitches aren’t discovered until the actual presentation. Then team members are scrambling to correct them while another tries to cover the goof.
“With a team presentation, you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” Eventoff says. “You’ve got to work on the details. Where should each person look while the other person is speaking? One person might need to watch for audience reaction while the others look at the presenter.
Teams often don’t realize that if they visually and verbally stumble, “people are going to be gone no matter the beauty of the presentation,” Eventoff says.
Here are some tips he offers to improve multiple-person presentation skills and make your presentations more effective:
• Get together. Even if you’re in far-flung locations, use Skype to practice the presentation as a team. That way you can fine-tune, working on issues such as transitions and timing.
It’s always ideal to meet in person and even visit the presentation room beforehand.
• Learn to edit. “Your information is never as important to your audience as it is to you,” he says. It’s critical to make your information as concise as possible, which can be a bit tricky with multiple people participating.
But look for inconsistencies, repetitive messages and other fluff that can cause a presentation to drag.
• Don’t miss critical points. Whether you’re part of an individual or group presentation, the most important elements are a strong opening and a solid, well-defined, compelling message.
Without those elements, “the audience will tune out,” Eventoff says.
• Keep it tight. Any time you have more than four people making a presentation, “you start going into choppy waters,” he says.
Too many presenters make it difficult for the audience to focus on the presentation — and can lead to more chances of things going wrong.
If you find that the bulk of your sales need to come from employee presentations that involve talking about your products or services to potential clients or you need to build effective team presentations to pitch ideas to top company leaders, learning to Design and Deliver Winning Presentations is a skill you and your people must master.