Presentation Skills 

Article by Adrian Rush MISTC, Managing Partner, AMR Enterprises 

 What are Presentation Skills?  Simply put, they can be divided into three areas.  First, how do you present yourself? Second, how do you present your business or company? Third, how do you speak when giving a presentation or a speech? 

 How to present yourself: 

This concept is the most personal and difficult for people to grasp and accept.  Let me put a scenario into place for you: You are going to an interview for a new job as an architect.  If you turn up in jeans and a polo shirt, what are trainers or the HR and Section Leaders going to think?  A sloppy dresser will be perceived as a sloppy worker.  Dressing inappropriately will allow clients to view you in a negative manner. First impressions are vitally important. People will judge you and your abilities on your appearance.  This holds true for networking events as well.  Wondering what you should wear to these three different types of meeting? A simple a pair of trousers, a shirt, tie and jacket fit the bill nicely.  If you are attending a conference, a high profile event or if you are a speaker at said event, it is essential for you wear a suit and a tie.  

How you present Your Business: 

How do you present your business?  If you are “Sole Trader” or “Micro Business” you are the face of it and MUST always be aware of that fact.  What can you do to give a favourable impression if going to meetings or other business related events? Again, always look respectable and always have business cards with you.  Be clear and concise when speaking about your business.  Do not “run down” your competitors (they will hear about it).  Always be positive about your competition, you never know when one day they might recommend you to a client as they cannot handle the work.  Potential client’s and customers want to know what you do in the first thirty seconds of your presentation.  Practice your pitch until it is second nature to you. 

How to speak when giving a presentation: 

Prepare yourself and practice what you are going to say.  Prepare any slides, making them clear and easy to read.  DO NOT put too much information on your audience or client. Good practice dictates a slide should have no more than six lines preferably four lines.  Use the slide to get the main points across to the audience. Have notes to work from as memory joggers and above all know what you are talking about.  If possible, try to include examples or “stories” in your presentation. This will help the audience to identify with you and your topic. . Always allow time for questions and think before you answer them.  DO NOT say “um” before you speak.  Speak clearly and slowly.  Engage with your audience to make sure you are informative without lecturing.  It is essential that you vary the tone and pitch of your voice.  If you do not your audience will start to “zone out” and only listen to bits of what you are saying. 

Be interesting, even for the most boring of subjects.  This means thinking about what you are going to say when you prepare your talk.  Involve the audience. Ask them questions and wait until you have heard and understood the answer.  If you have to demonstrate something, use a member of the audience.  It is essential that you are confident in what you are saying and make what you are saying believable. If your audience thinks you do not understand what you are saying they will not listen to you. 

In many cases you are the expert [or the audience is lead to believe you are].Your goal is to get this across to the audience.  Try to gauge the capabilities of your audience in the first few seconds. If you can, alter what you say to suit their ability to understand what you are saying.  Make every effort not to “talk down” to an audience because they will shut off and think of you in a bad light.  You may want you can ask the audience for their experiences on the subject. This will allow them to become involved, even in a small way. This makes your speech or presentation unique and helps people to remember you and what you have said. 

An audience will judge you on your appearance, your ability to get your message across and the way it was your “product” was presented to them. How often have you gone to a talk or presentation and by the time you get home have forgotten everything that was said? If you follow these three simple principles, you are less likely to be the forgotten   

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