Some tips I wrote up a long time ago for making effective presentations.
- Always have an Agenda slide – and at the beginning ask if the customer would like to change the flow
- Before you start, ask the customer for a time-check so you can best fit your presentation according to the time slot
- Americans in general are very open conversationalists – an (appropriate) joke here and there or a side conversation to make a presentation more interesting is taken well
- Avoid ‘speaking loud’ – many people tend to switch on their internal boom-boxes when presenting. It really sounds like those looney Americal Idol participants who think screaming while singing shows tone control.
- Always keep your presentation interactive – if you see no one asking you questions, more likely than not, you are boring those who are listening
- Try and keep your presentation short at the first level (5-7 pages for corporate, 10-15 for technical). Remember that customers always look at your page count to see how much is left, especially if it’s a boring presentation. It is very hard to retain interest after 20 pages. At the end of the shorter presentation, ask the customer if they want to deep dive and then take them through more details.
- Always try to assess who is interested in which part of your presentation. Be flexible in modifying your flow. Being flexible in presentation flow is probably one of the most important aspects of an effective presentation. What works with one customer may backfire with another and you must switch gears to save the day
- Know when to shut up – if you are presenting to a customer in a group, with more than one person presenting, do your job and then don’t interrupt the other person with your own perspective. This lack of judgement is often shown by senior people when more junior people in their organization are presenting – they butt in with ‘let me put what he said in perspective’ - a bit of perspective helps, but instead of acting ‘one up’ in front of the customer, rehearse the presentation before with your colleagues