8 Tips to Improve Your Presentation

8 Tips to Improve Your Presentation

07-Feb-2014 by Startupbootcamp

Photo courtesy: Coldplay

As the Investor Demo Day is approaching, it’s all about pitch, pitch, pitch. Knowing how to present your idea in a convincing manner is an indispensible skill. Each pitching opportunity, whether in front of 2 or 2000 people, equals a potential penny in your business and this is why you want to nail it.

We know that most of you are far better salespeople or engineers than on-stage magicians. We also know how scary the stage may look – that uncomfortable feeling of not finding where to put your hands, the lights blinding your eyes, and the warm blood rushing to your face as you are given the word in front of a huge audience. For thit reason we invited Frank Smallegange – an actor and a presentation coach, at Startupbootcamp HighTechXL to hold a series of training classes for presentation techniques. After drafting some suggestions, here come the 8 tips that will improve your performance.

1. Pick your strongest presenter

Don’t go for the whole team. Passing the ball to your colleagues during a presentation is too much of a hassle for a short 5-minute pitch. It takes away from your anyway limited time, your focus, your consistency, and your audience’s attention. More importantly, you lose the chance for culmination. Making a single-man show, on the other hand, will allow your message to strike more powerfully. Choose the most charismatic, talkative, and relaxed person of your team and entrust him with the job.

2. Open with a story

Tell the story that inspired you to start your company. You have a brillian product, right? But I don’t know what makes it special yet. I need to see things through your eyes. For that reason, you have to put me in your shoes. Introduce me to that particular moment when it struk you how you could make a difference. Sketch the issue and explain how your product is going to solve it. Following Frank Smallegange’s emphasis that the first 12 seconds are crucial for capturing the attention of the audience, make sure you actually embed a plot from the very beginning of your presentation. By giving a storyline to your pitch, you give it structure, spark, and help the audience identify with you. People love stories, so connect the dots to anchor your solution right at the heart of a relevant, growing issue.

3. Make it shorter

Remember the famous quote by Mark Twain, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”? This bright man figured it out that making things comprehensible involves quite some time and effort, but less lines. If you have been asked to give a 5 minute pitch, try making it 3. This does not mean squeezing the same amount of information in a shorter slot or talking faster. It rather suggests distilling the essence of your company’s identity into a strong line anyone would remember after the pitch. From that point on, if time allows, you can always put some brilliantine for a more glittery effect.

4. Learn it by heart

Don’t simply memorize your presentation word by word, try to feel it. Otherwise, what will happen if your stage fever tricks your brain and you forget it all? You should swim like a fish in water; be confident with what you know and do. No one else knows better than you do what your product is all about, its strong features and beneficial effects. Behind each line in your presentation you infuse your original passion and expertise. Now try narrating it to yourself out loud. Then tell it to your team members, your friends, mentors, etc. Film yourself pitching. Practice it until it sounds all natural. The more you pitch, the clearer it becomes to you what you actually offer and what people want to hear from you.

5. Get a grip

An impressive performer is one in control of himself and the environment. Make your hands, sight, and posture guide your way through and interact with the audience rather than obstruct your performance. On top of that, the audience already believes you are the expert before you have even stepped on the scene, so don’t make it hesitate. Lead their attention in the direction you wish. Put them a step ahead of their expectations instead of making them anticipate. In this way you will keep them engaged and postpone any doubts for the Q&A.

6. Use your voice to create dynamics

Do not underestimate the potential of your voice. It is a powerful tool to put all eyes on you. Knowing how to play with it can bring emotional touch and much nuance to your presentation. Every time you would like to stress something, make a pause beforehand or increase your intonation to emphasize an important point. Quicken the pace to create tension. Lower your voice to recapture your distracted audience. Create contrast by employing different timbres when your theme allows it.

7. Design your slides well

Power Points or Prezis are not meant to summarize your presentation. The role of slides is to illustrate better what you are saying. The big screen behind you is put to entertain the audience and not to back you up in case you forget what comes next. As previously mentioned, you should know by heart what follows. So, make your slides catchy, stylish and imagery.

8. Watch good examples

Making the perfect pitch is a matter of practice, but making a memorable one – of inspiration. Few people rock the show by nature. Even big names in business aspired following the footsteps of a role model, a giant in their field. We get inspired and trigger our creativity by observing others. We borrow ideas, exchange advice, and brainstorm to boost our performance to a next level. Many “Aha!” moments come by simply observing how others do it. So, we suggest you to dig and take a look at a good deal of inspiring videos.