How to do a great presentationD ing a good presentation isn’t that hard. There are a few golden ground rules to think about. If you master them, you are likely to be able to pull of a great presentation. First ALWAYS remember: failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Here are the golden rules for you:

Prepare. Prepare your presentation in good time so that you have time to adjust it along the way and to become familiar with it. If you actually know and are familiar with what you are talking about, it will show (which is also unfortunately true of the opposite).

Know your audience. Find out who you’ll be speaking to. Then pitch tone and content to the lowest common denominator. (no smutty jokes, mind).

Practice. Practice on your colleagues beforehand to uncover problem areas and rehearse timing. It will help build confidence. If you don’t have any colleagues, then practice by yourself. The important thing is to be entirely sure of your message and how you convey it.

How long in the limelight? Be realistic about how much you can cover in the time allotted – better to select a few key themes than to swamp your audience. A post – lunch graveyard slot require higher energy and wit.

Don’t write the whole speech out. Make bullet-pointed notes on small cards in clear writing.

Avoid death by PowerPoint. The fewer slides, the better. They should aid audience understanding, not provide you with a crutch. Ditch the clip art, keep information brief and talk to the audience, not the screen.

Cut the jargon. Acronyms, buzzwords and management speak won’t make you sound clever, they’ll confuse or bore your audience. Offer insightful advice and information. Fresh soundbites help.

Speak clearly and s-l-o-w-l-y. Don’t be afraid of pauses. Do use hand gestures, but keep nervous tics in check and don’t pace like a caged tiger.

Any questions? Get things going by planting a colleague or two in the audience, ready-primed. If asked a question you can’t answer, then say so. Own up and invite others to respond or say you will investigate and get back to it. Try to encourage those who have comments or questions, by giving them a small positive feedback or comment in return. Some examples: Good question, I like your enthusiasm, you’ve been paying attention, I’m glad you bring it up, that is an important subject.. etc.

Text inspired by/taken from an old paper version of the business magazine; Management Today.