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Practice Makes Perfect: How to Dominate Your Business Presentation

Talking in front of a room full of CEOs, colleagues, and investors can be nerve wracking. Ken Schmidt, author of MAKE SOME NOISE, explains how even the most fearless leader needs to practice before going into a big meeting, speech, or proposal. These tips will help you dominate your next business presentation. 

Do yourself and everyone who works with you a huge favor and practice your presentation until you’re comfortable and conversant with the information. I can’t stress this enough: You want your fellow leaders and, eventually, all of your people, to see that you’re committed to this, so professionalism and confidence are paramount. You wouldn’t risk making a major presentation to your most important customers or investors without rehearsing, right? Think of your fellow leaders the same way. Even famous CEOs of massive businesses rehearse before speaking to their people (and pay people like me to help with their presentation skills; just sayin’). When it comes to business meetings, I’ve found that there are three solid ways to hold any audience’s attention, gain their buy-in, and relieve the pressure of being the only person talking:

  1. Make it easy for your people to visualize what you’re saying by telling stories that use common examples from everyday life or aspirations.
  2. Encourage audience members to share personal experiences or memories that expand the stories you’ve told.
  3. Use visuals to boost memorability of key messages.

As you’re eyeballing my suggestions to help you frame your discussion, including key messages and some storytelling cues to get you running and up to speed, please know that “suggestions” should be taken literally. You should massage and personalize these any way you’d like, so that they sound like you talking, not some ridiculously cool guy from a book you just read. Whatever you do, don’t read this stuff I’m giving you word for word. Instead, make some cheat sheets or note cards with the key points you’ll use to support your presentation.

Along with key messages, I’m providing you with suggestions for your supporting visuals, too. Know this: Nobody hates seeing “word slides” in presentations more than me, but sometimes—and this is one of them—you have to use a few. The important thing is to put only your key words on your slides so your people can follow along and see what’s most important. You never want to put so much on a slide that people are reading when they should be listening. That’s torture for everyone and the sign of a presenter not comfortable with his or her content. Think R&R: What do I want these folks to remember and repeat? Because you’ll be sharing the entirety of your N3PS, I’ve also included recommendations for breaking it into smaller, easier-to-digest pieces.

As you’re getting input and ideas from your group during your presentation, be sure to record what’s being said—you can write on an easel or ask someone to be designated note taker. You now know how important it is to make sure whoever’s speaking can see that someone’s writing down whatever they’re saying.

Learn more about how to succeed in your business with MAKE SOME NOISE by Ken Schmidt!

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Tips on Life & Love: Confidence Is Key: 4 Secrets to Public Speaking

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Excerpted from Make Some Noise by Ken Schmidt. Copyright © 2018 by the author. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Photo by Rawpixel on Unsplash

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