Throughout your career you’ll have to make presentations and make no mistake, it’s a wonderful opportunity for your superiors and even your peers to judge you. I’ve seen super smart and loyal employees fail due to their lack of charisma and I’ve seen cool, confident guys with much less knowledge succeed. A presentation is your time to shine so you need to approach the situation seriously.
Make sure laundry day doesn’t fall on the same day as you’re giving a presentation because you need to dress the part. Bust out the cuff-links, the pocket square -go all out because with all eyes on you, you need to look your best. If you’ve won the crowd over with your appearance, that’s half the battle and makes everything easier.
The next thing is how you relay the information to your audience. The best way to do any presentation is to have an extensive, intimate knowledge of whatever it is that you’re doing a presentation on. That’s much different from having knowledge on a subject because you studied it for a really, really long time. In order to gain that intimate knowledge on a subject you really have to love it. This is why you can read a good book once and remember every last line but you can’t remember how to say hello in Spanish even after you took it for four years in high school. It’s hard to love anything that involves Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint so you’re going to have to make up for it with confidence.
Confidence is key in every aspect of your life but it truly works wonders in the boardroom. We’ve already nailed your wardrobe so let’s focus on how to work the room. Make sure you’re able to set up your presentation with ease: no glitches, no tripping on wires, make sure it is smooth sailing because the last thing you need is to get off to a bad start. Here’s a mistake a lot of people make. They get into “presentation mode” where they talk differently and move differently. That’s not the way to do it. It comes off as phony and you’re not selling used cars here. You should do a presentation as if you’re simply having a conversation with the room. Speak clearly. Don’t say “um” and always make eye contact with your audience.
Eye contact lets people know you’re not nervous. Be relaxed because you don’t want to be stiff up there. Now, just because you’ve stopped speaking doesn’t mean the presentation is over, as you’ll have to field questions. This is an important part of any presentation. You can’t prepare for questions. You can never determine exactly what somebody is going to ask you. The key here is to think before you speak. Don’t be silent for a full minute while everybody waits for an answer but take a few seconds to formulate your thoughts and then hit the crowd with an amazing answer. If you don’t know the answer don’t stumble around trying to make something up. Quickly and confidently respond by saying, “I’m not sure but you make an interesting point and I’ll find out immediately.” Don’t just say it. As soon as the meeting is over, go find out the answer so the next time you’re asked you’re prepared.
Follow these tips and I guarantee you’ll be one step closer to the top of the corporate heap.