How To Do A Business Presentation And Achieve Presentation Zen
By John Casey, Website Specilaist at Sage
Presentations don’t come easy for everyone. The thoughts of them alone are enough to guarantee sleepless nights for some, while for others giving presentations seems to come naturally. As someone who is definitely not part of the latter group, I decided to read up on the subject and based on the recommendation of a friend, I bought Garr Reynolds book Presentation Zen. After reading it, I can’t say that I am now a lot more eager to give presentations at work and am more comfortable with the idea of presenting.
At the outset Reynolds states his philosophy that the PowerPoint deck is the tool to aide your presentation and not your presentation in itself. He addresses the classic problem straight away, how do you avoid situations where you have presentation decks consisting of 30+ slides, all packed with lengthy bullet-points, graphs and tables and 30 minutes to deliver these volumes of data. Reynolds stresses simplicity is the answer.
This extends to your design and delivery, but fundamentally to your message. Find what you want to say, group your points around that topic and don’t stray from the theme of your argument. This was the first important takeaway for me from the book, that the majority of time spent on the presentation should be put towards the preparation. Take time away from the screen, figure out what you want to say, sketch out the flow of how you will do this. Finally introduce data to support your points and keep it a simple message that you believe in and return to constantly.
Design your presentation around the same principle. Reynolds argues everything used in the deck needs simply to support your argument. Consider the next time you feel the need to add in 8-10 bullet-points to a slide, is this the right use of the real estate? Or is it better to us a simple graphic and a supporting document with your in-depth tables and stats while you present your point keeping the focus on you and your argument.
The final section of the book deals with the presentation itself, how to express yourself in a way you feel most comfortable with. This enables you to make a connection to your audience, while the content and structure is important to the presentation; Reynolds believes talking simply and passionately on your topic is going to help your audience understand your argument. The maxim is that it’s better to leave your audience understanding your presentation and wanting to learn more rather than overload it with information that they must wade through to get to your point.
All in all, I would recommend Presentation Zen, it’s a reasonably quick read, very engaging and definitely gives you peace of mind that you have a reliable method to prepare your presentation and hopefully leaves behind the days of staring at slides packed with graphs, bullet points and a table thrown in for good measure.
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