The Art of Power Presenting

Do you recall Brian Chesky, the founder and CEO of AirBnB, and when he released the rejection letters from venture capitalists? He got introduced to seven prominent investors in Silicon Valley. He was attempting to raise $150,000 at a $1.5M valuation. That means for $150,000; you could have bought 10% of Airbnb, which would equate to roughly $2.5 Billion today. His comment on the matter was that: “The investors that rejected us were smart people, and I am sure we didn’t look very impressive at the time.” There are many lessons one can learn from this great story such as being persistent and believing in yourself. As a public speaking coach, I believe that Chesky and team could have prepared differently and closed the deal way quicker. If someone gets seven, chances to present and fails to achieve his outcome then trust that the audience did not buy into the presenter nor the idea. Now imagine how many entrepreneurs, like Chesky, are struggling to effectively convey the message about their great business idea?

Effective business presentations are crucial in this day and age. A great idea can easily flop if not presented in a compelling way that appeals to our target audience. Humans have biases, and one of them is being biased towards people we like . Standing on stage and having that chance to present a concept or idea is a numbers game; we get to leverage our time and reach out to several people in one shot as we are in a position of power. Why not seize this opportunity and create success for yourself?

The most experienced and seasoned presenters plan their speeches and ask for feedback constantly because they understand that a powerful speech is planned, rehearsed and well-prepared. What is interesting is that it is crucial for success, but many associate it with pain and severe nerves. A poor presentation can lead to rejection and demoralization, but nevertheless, it is a crucial tool to spread the message about your business and idea. As a business leader or entrepreneur, this is a skill-set you will undoubtedly have to familiarize yourself with the sooner the better. If you want to reach the top, you have to present. There are no excuses to presenting badly: You always have to Practice, practice, practice!

There are clear solutions out there with extensively tried and tested methods. I will share a few that I have learned along the way.

5 Ps: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

There are no short-cuts for a successful presentation; you simply have to prepare and rehearse it. Many presenters read a script silently to themselves until they’ve got it down. But it’s much better to rehearse the presentation the way you’ll deliver it—standing, aloud, and with the passion, pacing, and movement you’ll use. Steve Jobs, an incredible speaker, spent days preparing his important speeches. Now, there are no excuses for an entrepreneur to wing a presentation if they want a favorable outcome. Furthermore, it interlinks with one key trait that is very important for a speaker. Confidence!

Confidence is key. Confident people are charismatic and likable. Know your content, know what you want to say and believe in yourself and the way that you are conveying your message. This is a trait that needs to be echoed throughout your whole presentation, from the very first second till the very end where you are answering questions. A confident person handles technical issues and uncomfortable questions with grace and positivity at all times. A very simple reminder as well, something that people forget, is to smile. Some presenters are focused on delivering the message that they forget to do something as basic as smiling.

Bore! Snooze! Whatsapp-time! If that is what your audience are thinking when you are on stage, then your communication will be lost. Regardless of what topic you are trying to tackle, if you are just informing and not adding value to your audience, then why would your audience care for you? Your audience deserves better, so always emphasize the benefits for the audience and do it right away. Don’t wait till the end of a presentation to convey that, explain what value they are getting from the outset. This links tightly with understanding your purpose and the reason for why you are standing on stage. The tough questions need to be understood and answered and prepared for before you set foot on stage, this is provided that you want your desired outcome, do you not?

Once you have your content ready, you need to check your presentation for one, all too common mistake. The Ego presentations where the speaker uses a lot of “I” in his presentation is less effective than using You-language. For example, “I think this is important because…” is less effective than saying “This is important for you because…”. What is the relevance of your presentation if it’s not directed at your audience? If your topic isn’t relevant to the audience, then why waste their time? The purpose for you and the purpose for your audience needs to be on point and sharp.

Finally, part of the preparation work can be aided by a public speaking coach. There are a lot of powerful techniques that you can use to calm your nerves and prepare a good speech. One of the hottest tips that I recommend for very nervous speakers is to utilize public speaking coaching to get rid of the fear of public speaking and instill strong visualization techniques where you see yourself presenting successfully. Help can be one of your greatest investments as they will help in articulating certain problems and assisting you in your presentation delivery.

PowerPoint Presentation- No Power nor point

Using a PowerPoint presentation can sometimes make you seem like you have no power nor point. We all remember that person on stage that is referring to the graph and chart throughout the presentation, do we not? The outcome of that presentation is that we barely remember the charts we were staring at throughout and definitely do not remember who the presenter was.

If you are letting your presentation slides control your audience’s attention and forgetting you then you are not doing it right. Presentation tools should be there to aid your presentation and not take over your presentation. Reasonably you want the audience to remember you and not your visual tools? Simple techniques such as fading the background or using a black screen between slides are perfect ways to do it. A way to check if you are doing it right is by asking, am I reading from the slide? If the answer is yes then you are not doing it right and it should take you back to preparation and planning.

Power Presenting – the silent tips

Our words convey only 7% of the meaning, our vocal expression 38% and our body language a whopping 55% of what the audience will remember and believe! There are ways for you to use your physiology to boost your confidence before the presentation. Using a power stance such as standing straight with your hands up high are ways to boost your confidence before the presentation. If you haven’t watched one of the most popular TED speeches, then I highly recommend the speech by Amy Cuddy, American social psychologists, about power moves. “Power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. During the presentation you need to be mindful of your body language or the non-verbal communication to make sure that your presentation is effective and powerful.

Non-verbal communication is conveyed in what we wear and how we dress. Choose your colors wisely and beware of what your clothes are communicating. If you want to hold a high-powered presentation, then you need to dress the part. Using expensive clothes, power jewellery for both men and women are ways to signal that you are successful, organized and that you are well-put together. On stage, your audience is looking at the details of your outfit so plan it meticulously.

There are methods to handle objections, negative feedback, aggression and perhaps the biggest disturbance factor of today, the cell phones. If someone is disturbing your presentation and this in turn is disturbing you, then single that person out through eye-contact to neutralize them but if it persists, start walking in their direction but avoid verbalizing anything for as long as possible. Preparing a scenario for all of these possible shock factors that may throw you off prepares you for success.

Do you want more tips? Perhaps I can give you homework. Ask yourself what part of the stage is the most powerful part and which one is the least empowering one? If you don’t have the answer to that question, then I would advise you to look at any of the presentations by Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, presentations and evaluate him based on the above questions.

Finally, what is most important in presentations? Two things, a good story that is clear and exciting coupled with a good stage performance that is persuasive will ensure success. Note that they work in symbiosis, i f you only have a good stage performance, but not a good story you are perceived as an imposter – the audience will realize that. If you only have a good story, but no good stage performance, you will be boring. Use these tips to make sure that you are power presenting and able to spread your idea effectively every time you are on stage.

Condensed Article published in Arabian Business Link: