Keys to a Good Presentation

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Notes From Bill Lane (Jack Welch's Speech Writer), including the Keys to a good business presentation and the Don’ts of a bad presentation.
Source: Notes From Bill Lane (Jack Welch's Speech Writer), including the Keys to a good business presentation and the Don’ts of a bad presentation.
Subject: Career

“Always take the opportunity to present. You should be volunteering and fighting for your time in the spotlight. It’s your chance to hit it out of the park !!”

Keys to a good business presentation:

  • Take time to prepare the presentation…map out the structure and the flow. Make sure you feel comfortable with the layout.
  • Management is happier if they feel like you’ve put a lot of time into your presentation. They feel like you are taking your opportunity to present seriously.
  • Practice out loud.
  • Eliminate flat spots!!! If it sounds boring take it out. You should be excited to present every page of your presentation.
  • Give people something they can take out of the presentation and use:
    • Warnings
    • Best Practices
    • Concerns
    • Potential Solutions
    • Desired Actions
  • Tell your audience at the outset what you want from them…”We are here to decide xxx today. I have a chart on the background, a page on the potential options, a chart on the reasoning and a lot more detail if you need it.”
  • Know your audience…Find out something about them. Call someone who has presented to them before.
    • Are they smart or not?
    • Detail or not?
    • Charts or data?
  • Understand the culture before you present. Pick up the phone and ask.
  • Your first minute is the most important!!! You either capture your audience or lose them in the first minute.
    • Grab their attention and don’t let them go
    • Don’t Waste your time telling jokes (senior leadership considers this to be flippant).
    • Don’t waste your time with small talk.
  • Be Aggressive!! Don’t get lost in the charts. Find out what your audience is concerned about and attack it.
  • Anecdotes are critical!! You can’t give a decent business pitch without them.
  • Give just the key pieces of data that support your point…then have backup. Your audience should NEVER get ahead of you in a presentation. If they are ahead they are bored.
  • Be fair…Don’t turn things into a “no brainer”. Show both sides to the issue. Show that you’ve worked through several scenarios.
  • Don’t let arbitrary time limits dictate your presentation. If you can give a solid 10 or 20 min business presentation then do it!! If you go under you time limit no big deal. If you go over it could KILL you.
  • Turn off the projector when you’re not using it. Pull as many distractions away from the audience as possible.
  • Reading word charts is REALLY BAD!! Put limit discussion topics to one subject per chart. Don’t overcomplicate your charts. BIG, CLEAR, READABLE CHARTS IS KEY.
  • Never make it boring!! There is no need for anyone to be bored in your business presentation. It is your responsibility to ensure that it is useful.

The Don’ts of Business Presentations:

  • Don’t be flippant, small talker, or ass kisser. Get into the pitch.
  • Don’t say things in poor taste.
  • Don’t read a script
  • Don’t put up a word slide with 10 bullets and read them.
  • Don’t show off with Jargon and complex business terminology. Keep your message simple.
  • Don’t tell lies or try to mislead your audience
  • Don’t fail to over prepare
  • Don’t go over your time limit
  • Don’t try to BS your way through a question you don’t know the answer to.
  • Don’t agree to do another person’s presentation at the last minute. It can kill you!!
  • Don’t be unprepared for interruption
  • Don’t be timid when challenged
  • Don’t apologize for anything in your presentation…including an eye chart. If you are apologizing for it why did you put it in to begin with?
  • Don’t present pages that someone has said are boring or lack impact.
  • Don’t have an audience leave the room not knowing why they were there.
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