The Experts’ Guide to Excelling at Presentations
As well as having excellent analytical skills and in-depth knowledge of the markets, finance professionals often faced with the challenge of delivering presentations. Be it a pitch presentation, a sales review, or just a team meeting presentation for a small audience, being prepared is always the secret for a successful presentation.
Global Matters: When a finance professional has to give an important presentation what’s the key to good preparation?
Jonathan Price: It depends a lot on personal style and on the prospective audience, but there are some golden rules. 1. Keep it simple, 2. Think about how different people best receive information (visually, orally, reading) and the old favourite from sales, 3. Sell the sizzle not the sausage.
Dave Coker: Clearly knowing your topic is the single most important point – never accept slides or other material from someone “to pitch”. Review, review, review! Every presentation I give is rehearsed, sometimes as many as 100 times if it’s a new topic. Time the presentation and keep a running timer so you can insure you’re keeping to the overall timing. Don’t overrun your time slot – very amateurish.
GM: What factors should the presenter consider when deciding on the form of the presentation?
JP: PowerPoint is useful if you are talking to a group of people, but not too many slides, and keep them simple. Presenters often try to put too much detail into slides. If it’s a presentation to one or two people, talking is best without PowerPoint, but take along a notebook to draw on, or use a flip chart.
DC: On the subject of PowerPoint, I’m pretty disciplined – bullet points only and no more than six per slide. Density is a turn-off and your bullet points should be structured as single, simple sentences that you talk about for protracted periods. Don’t stand up and read your slides – BORING! The bullet point should be restated, at length, and using different words.
GM: How can a presenter make what might a dull presentation more interesting?
JP: The use of visuals always helps a presentation. These can be pictures, diagrams or even charts and graphs, but not too many of them. If you can draw, it is impressive to draw graphs and diagrams freehand. If the audience is at all techie, then you can do impressive stuff with Prezi software, but it’s not my style.
DC: I use self-deprecating humour to good effect. Otherwise see points above about boring presentations. If you’re simply reading slides why are you there? BORING!
GM: Any advice on body language the presenter should use when giving the presentation?
JP: Again body language is a matter of style. I like walking around, getting close to the audience if it’s a big group. If it’s a small meeting, the advantage of drawing on paper is that they lean closer to you to see what it is you are drawing.
DC: Don’t hide behind the podium, I like to get out and walk amongst the audience. Stay active! One university I worked at had a lecturer who sat in an easy chair at the front. How lazy. No surprise sleeping in her class was popular.
GM: Any advice on handling questions at a presentation?
JP: The questions and answers are often more important than the main presentation, so it is critical to get them right. It helps to have a sense of the mood of the audience. Good presenters have an instinct for this like stand-up comics do.
DC: Questions come in two flavours – on and off topic. Don’t be afraid to terminate off topic questions. You don’t want to turn off the majority of your audience.
GM: Any other advice?
DC: Review, review, review! Very few people can talk off the cuff, but a surprisingly large number believe they can.
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Are you are an experienced presenter? Leave your tips for a successful presentation in our comments box!