Often in a small to medium business your role includes marketing, accounts and general sweeper. When your role includes giving a presentation about your business, it is vital that you get it right. It is often forgotten that you are your brand so it is essential when giving presentations you stand out for all the right reasons. You are the expert giving the presentation, and you want to look and deliver like the expert who can impress and convince your audience. At the same time, you want to feel comfortable and confident. How the audience perceives you and your message will be greatly influenced by your gestures, grammar, mannerisms and your visual appearance. The 6 Pʼs are essential for the perfect presentation.
Your clothes should reflect the clientʼs image as well as your own.
- Consider the clientʼs image. In the corporate world, most traditional businesses favour conservative attire, while creative industries respond to more individualist outfits. Consider, the type of presentation, location, what your audience will be wearing, and dress one level up.
- Staying true to your own image enhances your confidence and credibility. While you should dress to reflect the audience expectations, you should also dress to suit your own personality and taste. Being comfortable in your outfit will help you remain relaxed and confident. Donʼt force yourself into a three-piece suit if youʼre going to squirm awkwardly throughout your presentation.
Demonstrate your professionalism by paying attention to the small details that enhance or detract from your overall appearance.
- Check your outline. Remove anything that dangles or jangles when you move. Your clothes pressed and tidy, your hair neatly trimmed and your shoes polished, with the heels fitting securely.
- Ensure your clothes fit correctly for your figure. Generally, a looser fit is more flattering as tight clothes can call attention to unsightly bulges and restrict movement.
- Avoid distracting details. If you wear glasses, choose clean lines rather than funky colourful frames. Jewellery should not be a focal point of your outfit. Have one simple bag for all your documents and personal items.
Colour, texture and complementary tones give a polished finish to your professional appearance.
- Wear colours that complement your skin tone, hair and eye-colour. Avoid colours that overpower you. If you are petite, bright colours will help you stand out in front of an audience. Wear some contrast, such as a contrasting scarf or tie, to help your audience maintain their attention upon you.
- Anything too busy or too blatantly bright can be visually disconcerting and won’t do much for the content of your talk. It may help to keep the audience awake, but they will become visually tired by the time you have finished.
- Make-up should be fairly neutral with the object to look healthy and rested.
- Try to find out what your backdrop will be. If you are presenting on a stage with a black background, your dark clothes will blend into the background. In contrast bright clothes will seem glaring in an extremely bright room.
Who – What – Where?
- WHO are you talking to? The better you know your audience, the better you can hold their attention by tailoring your material around their needs. Who will be in the audience? Why are they here? Why did they invite you to speak? Talk to the event organiser before writing your speech, and on the day, establish a rapport by mingling with the audience before you begin your speech.
- WHAT do you need to say? Begin writing your speech with a clear outline of the points you want to make. Select a few key points and embellish these with examples and anecdotes. Build this into a complete manuscript, and read this aloud to ensure you are keeping your message to the point. Once you are confident of your structure and your message, you can simplify your speech into note-form again. Prepare charts as handouts or screen presentation to present statistical or analytical information.
- WHERE are you presenting? Arrive at the venue at least an hour early to make yourself comfortable with your surroundings. Check the microphone, lighting, audio-visual and any other factors that may affect your performance.
Clarity -Confidence and Passion
- Your goal is to deliver your speech with clarity, confidence and passion while maintaining eye-contact with your audience.
- Begin by practicing from your manuscript, then once youʼve achieved fluency, simplify the speech into note-form.
- Record your delivery so you can listen to yourself. After each point, ask yourself, “Who cares?” If nobody does, omit that point. Ensure that each point is listed in logical order, so your audience can follow your argument. Listen to your speaking speed, your volume and voice pitch to ensure the audience can hear you comfortably.
- Video-tape your performance so you can review your physical delivery. Review your energy level, body language, eye contact to assess your impact, energy and rapport.
Impact – Energy – Rapport
- Your opening sentence must have impact. Come out punching with a startling statement, quote or story. Donʼt waste precious seconds with “Ladies and Gentleman” and save any greetings or gratitude until youʼve grabbed the audienceʼs attention.
- Deliver your speech with energy and passion. Use inside stories to personalise information and add colour to the information youʼre trying to pass on. Charts and graphs can convey statistical and analytical data more effectively than a long recitation of numbers.
- Maintain your rapport with the audience. Encourage audience participation through questions or personal insights. Use humour with caution: if your jokes fall flat, you will lose your credibility with the audience. Conversely, your audience will be puzzled if a speech that began humorously, abruptly becomes dry and serious.
- Finish with a strong memorable closing statement or with a vivid example. Memorise your finishing statement so you can flawlessly “bring it home”. Save this statement until after youʼve accepted questions from the audience. Rather than closing your speech with “Are there any questions?” say “Before I close, are there any questions?” Once youʼve answered the final question, deliver your concluding statement, so you finish on a high note.
When delivering a presentation it is essential to connect with the audience both visually and verbally. Your message will only be heard if the six Pʼs are delivered with equal importance and success.
Cosimina Nesci is an image consultant who is passionate about helping others realise their potential by looking and feeling their absolute best. She has transformed the lives of private clients and worked with organisations as varied as large retailers to individual business owners all with the same goal – getting their image/brand right.