Copyright 2006 Harrison Monarth
Your next presentation is just around the corner. To ensure devastating impact, just follow these ten steps and watch your career catch fire.
1. Avoid Excessive Research
Research is for geeks and bookworms. Do you really want to bore your audience with a bunch of statistics and facts that they can easily get from the library or from Google?
You want to tell people your version of how things work, not someone elses ideas that have been posted all over the Internet already.
2. Be Spontaneous
Preparation and rehearsals are for amateurs, or actors. By practicing your presentation you only sabotage your chances for spontaneity. Just scribble down a few notes and stuff them in your pocket in case you need them for reference. This allows you to improvise as you go, keeping your talk lively and interesting. People hate predictability.
Plus, by rehearsing your presentation you run the risk of having a bunch of know-it-alls give you unwanted feedback, which may tempt you to make last-minute changes. Do you really want to start over? Remember, this is YOUR show!
3. Always Start 15 Minutes Later
When you go to a 7:30 movie, what time does the feature presentation actually start? Around 7:45. There are usually at least 15 minutes of commercials and previews, to allow people enough time to settle in for the big show.
If this strategy works for multimillion-dollar movies, it will work for you too.
Besides, if you start your talk right on time youll only get distracted by the latecomers.
4. Calm Your Nerves
To avoid getting nervous prior to your presentation, have a big meal and an alcoholic beverage right before you start your talk. Both will help you relax to the point where you wish you could take a nap. If food and beverages are not available at the time, head to the nearest pharmacy and get some cold medicine or sleep aids. But dont overdo it. All you want to do is take the edge off, not go to sleep.
5. Open With a Joke
People like to laugh. Telling a joke at the beginning of your talk will serve as a great ice breaker. And if they hate the rest of your presentation, at least you made them laugh right at the start. And first impressions are the most important.
If you cant remember any good politically incorrect jokes, pick on someone in the audience. Thats what stand-up comedians do. Before long, youll have the audience roaring and in a great mood.
6. Ignore the Audience
When you finally get up to speak, dont look anyone in the eye. Theyll just make you nervous with their constant staring!
Also, if people shake their heads or roll their eyes while youre speaking, you wont get distracted by looking at them, so you stay right on track with your presentation.
7. Use Jargon Liberally
Youre the expert, right? You speak a specialized language that only you and a handful of other experts in your field know. Youve earned the right to use it. If your audience cant keep up, it isnt your problem. Maybe next time theyll be better prepared and study up on the topic youre speaking on.
8. Dont use Audio Visuals
PowerPoint is the devil. Its complicated and technical and cumbersome to drag around. Plus it adds unnecessary preparation time. And whos going to set it up? What if there arent any electrical outlets or theyre too far from the front of the room? You dont want to burden yourself with all these technical details. Skip the fancy technology.
9. Time is Money
What you have to say is too important to fit into a predetermined time slot. You might take twenty minutes, you might take two hours. If inspiration strikes during your presentation and you think of additional information your audience should know, are you supposed to withhold it? That wouldnt be very ethical. Pack as much detail as possible into your speech.
On the flipside, if you run out of things to say before your allocated time is up, people can get back to work and youll have directly contributed to office productivity. Its a win-win situation.
10. Leave Quickly
Audiences are infamous for asking questions after presentations, and if you stick around youll only set yourself up for annoying Q & A sessions.
Obviously people werent paying attention while you were speaking, so why should you reward them by answering questions that you most likely covered during your talk?
Watch the President the next time he makes a statement to the press. As soon as hes said what he wants to say, he heads for the exit, with reporters shouting questions after him. Does he waste his time? Neither should you. Perhaps the audience should take notes next time.