Do Presentation Methods Matter? 5 Ways on How to Present Information
Presentation methods may vary, but the objective remains the same: achieve validation for an idea, proposal or action. However, a presentation’s impact depends on several factors. Chief among them is the choice of which methods to employ.
For instance, will a simple speech with no visual aids be enough to carry your message across? Or, will you need visuals like images, graphs, charts and tables to bolster your ideas?
Studies show lack of preparation is the reason 90% of people experience anxiety before a presentation. To overcome that problem, much thought and preparation should go into a presentation before you ever start on the first slide.
All in all, presentation methods matter when you’re conveying a message. But how that message affects your audience depends greatly on how you communicate your ideas.
Presentation Skills Basics
The art of the presentation covers more than just explaining an idea. Everything you do in front of an audience can influence the way it reacts to your presentation. This is why presenters must stay in control when speaking in front of a group of people.
Any small gesture or unscripted words can cause a distraction. How do you think the audience will react if a speaker keeps yawning while delivering a speech? At the same time, listeners would have trouble keeping up when confronted with slides that are crammed full of text.
Here are some ways to keep the audience engaged throughout your presentation:
Show Enthusiasm When Presenting an Idea
Nothing turns off listeners more than watching a presenter who’s bored with his own show. How do you expect to engage others when you can’t even engage yourself?
To sell an idea, a speaker must first sell themselves. Not only should you know what you’re talking about, but you must also give an air of confidence when sharing your ideas. Combining both attributes can boost a your enthusiasm levels, which can carry over to the audience during the talk.
Control Your Body Language and Mannerisms
Excessive on-stage body movement can distract the audience enough that they stop listening and start watching instead. Remember, communication also involves non-verbal language, so listeners might be tuning into your movements more than they should.
For example, fidgeting on stage can signal nervousness or uncertainty, which the audience might mistake for a lack of confidence. Conversely, acting overly confident and dismissive can come across as negative. The crowd may want to listen and learn, but they don’t want to be lectured.
Keep Things Simple
When discussing an idea or proposal, avoid veering off topic or including so much information that the audience begins to disengage. You should make it simple for listeners to easily grasp what you’re communicating.
Now, this doesn’t mean using friendly terms or talking slowly. What’s more important is the effort you made to understand your audience before your presentation. Are you speaking in front of engineers? Then you should be comfortable using terms and acronyms they’re already familiar with. Are you talking to buyers? Cut down on jargon, focus on solutions and have the numbers ready even before they ask. Knowing your audience and preparing your talk accordingly is a much better approach than simply dialing down your language.
When presenting, focus on the fact that you have a great idea that can benefit many people. Your immediate goal should be to use your limited time to share this exciting idea as enthusiastically and completely as possible without going overboard.
Importance of Presentation Skills
Communication and presentation skills are important assets to have across all industries. Unfortunately, presentation skills are not inherent traits a person is born with. The good news, however, is that they can be easily learned. Even better, with enough practice and continual refinement, anyone can master the various presentation methods.
Skill in Presentation Methods Can Lead to Corporate Success
Many professions rely on skilled presentation methods to get the job done, including teachers, HR trainers and management executives. These positions depend highly on the employee’s ability to communicate with their audiences. Their presentation skills help them master their jobs every day. Sales representatives are no exception.
A salesperson’s career relies on the ability to convert leads into customers. This includes the extraordinary ability to convince buyers that their proposed solution outshines the rest of the field. More importantly, the savvy sales rep should possess presentation skills that are better than their competitors.
The mastery of various presentation methods can lead an employee to earn a distinctive role in the company. Not everybody can keep an audience engaged, informed and entertained at the same time. If you can master this ability, rest assured that your company will create every opportunity to put those skills to the test. Here are specific instances where skilled presentation methods can ensure professional success:
Acing the Job Interview
For many employees, the earliest part of their successful career path started by acing that final job interview. Having sharp presentation skills can immediately set you apart from other candidates and mark you as a potential leader among recruiters.
By mastering various presentation methods, the ideal candidate has demonstrated they have the confidence and the skills to represent the company both within and outside the office walls. As a result, the company is more than happy to add the necessary training and knowledge to develop the candidate into a model employee.
Closing the Deal
Of course, the bulk of a sales representative’s work is convincing the client their solution is better than all others combined. While many companies offer products that check all the buyer’s boxes, how the sales rep positions their solution often plays the definitive part in getting the big yes.
It starts with the sales representative clearly demonstrating the company understands the client’s problem. Then, they offer a solution that dovetails with the specific problems. Finally, mastery of presentation methods allows the sales rep to skillfully handle objections and close the deal.
At some point in their careers, all other non-sales employees will also find the need to act as salespersons to advance the interests of their department. During annual budget meetings, for instance, many employees will be asked to present their department proposals. They’ll need to convince finance bosses and upper management of the importance of their projects to get the budget approvals they need.
Winning Public Opinion
Many people form their opinions of companies based on what they hear or read about them. Skillful presentation methods can also help a company get out of a potential public relations disaster. Even in the midst of a serious problem, a veteran PR person can convey the company’s utmost sincerity in righting a perceived misstep or inaction. In other cases, an enthusiastic presenter armed with an equally great presentation can highlight a company’s social responsibility programs and show that it gives as much as it takes from the community.
Specific Presentation Skills That Are Valuable in the Workplace
Mastering the art of presenting requires a number of talents. Savvy presenters know they can’t rely on content alone. After all, a successful storyteller might have a very interesting tale to tell, but they’ll also need to apply various other skills to make a story stand out and resonate with its listeners. Outside of confidence, here are additional attributes that can enhance a person’s presentation skills:
All presentation methods involve speaking in front of an audience. Therefore, a basic requirement is public speaking. Those without a love for storytelling or the confidence to talk to strangers will soon find presenting a heavy burden that gets harder to perform every time.
Another necessary skill to master is the ability to organize thoughts into a coherent and orderly presentation. Like any story, a presentation must have a logical beginning, middle and end. An organized person should have no problems arranging and composing a story that moves in a logical sequence the audience can easily follow. Otherwise, the presentation could become an incoherent mess that’s hard to follow and harder to agree with.
Not all audiences have time to endure a 30-minute presentation. The skilled presenter should know the set limit for a presentation and be able to condense their slideshow into a version that fits the allotted time. In some cases, a busy client won’t even have time to sit in a meeting with a seller, so they’ll settle for an elevator pitch. Given that last-second reprieve, the intrepid salesperson should be ready and take that shot.
Empathy With Audiences
By itself, empathy is already a key skill to learn. Applied to the workplace and to presentation methods, this ability becomes even more valuable. It takes a certain kind of talent to master public speaking, and even more so public listening. Being attuned to what the audience feels in certain situations is a great way to steer your presentation in the right direction. For sales presenters, acknowledging your audience’s pain points reinforces the idea that the proposed solution can solve its specific problems.
Sense of Humor
The masterful presenter knows how to laugh with their audience. Adding some light moments to heavy presentations can ease the building tension. It also puts the audience in a better mood to accept new ideas or listen to offered solutions. Of course, jokes and witty humor should always remain within the confines of good taste to remain effective.
Presentation Software Skills
As great presentations require great visual support, skilled presenters know how valuable the right presentation software is. Learning how to operate presentation software to produce awesome content is a valuable skill everybody should strive for.
The Bottom Line: Improved Presentation Methods
Mastering these abilities will sharpen a person’s presentation skills and improve their presentation methods. By applying these attributes to certain situations, they’re more likely to engage the crowd. Ultimately, this can make your audience more receptive to proposed ideas and less resistant to closing a sale.
More importantly, great presentation skills can lead to better relationships with clients. When the client confirms you have their best interests at heart, they can rightly conclude that your solutions can address their specific concerns. Thanks to a mastery of presentation methods, what started as an opportunity to tell a story can turn into a successful long-term partnership.
The Importance of Presentation Skills in Sales
For sales in particular, possessing refined presentation skills means being ready to talk to clients at all times. Admittedly, not all client encounters end on a happy note. But enhancing your sales team’s presentation methods can help them anticipate and deal with every possible uncertainty.
Presentation skills also encourage sales teams to learn more about their prospects. Crafting a unique presentation that caters to their specific requirements means taking the time to listen to and understand clients. Otherwise, they risk creating and sharing a presentation that’s far from what buyers expected.
Finally, presentation skills allow sales teams to collaborate with each other and with other departments like marketing and customer service. Using the right cloud-based presentation software, members can remotely share their expertise in every presentation before it goes to the client.
The Importance of Presentation Skills in Marketing
For marketing, building up presentation skills is equally crucial in achieving the company’s objectives. Digital marketing guru Neil Patel noted that most of the important personality traits found in successful marketers are also found in people with exceptional presentation skills. He added that for marketing personnel, having the right presentation skills can directly help brand efforts.
When presenting before an audience, a savvy marketer can increase brand trust, raise awareness and even drive sales. All it takes is a well-designed, well-crafted and superbly delivered presentation.
Besides, it’s marketing’s job to deliver the finer points to the rest of the organization, including brand reports, market analysis and even customer profiles. Marketing needs to share this information with the sales team so it can focus efforts in the right places.
Additionally, marketing produces the content that’s responsible for promoting the brand and driving demand. With marketing having a great story to tell, they’ll need an equally great presentation to get sales to buy in. Without the requisite presentation skills and methods, sales may not get the entire picture or understand the whole story.
Presentation Methods and Techniques
Like stories, presentations come in different forms and travel in various ways to arrive at an ending. What works for one presentation might not necessarily produce the same effect in another. Some start with an action-packed opening, while others take their sweet time getting to the conclusion. Meanwhile, other presenters prefer delivering a story that’s short, sweet and to the point.
The variety of methods is one of the great things about making a presentation. You can mix and match various techniques to come up with your own unique stories the audience will love.
These are some of the more popular presentation methods and techniques used by many successful presenters over the years:
Start With a Hook
Almost all successful artists will say the first few seconds of a show determine its success. Similarly, a presenter needs to jump-start the conversation immediately or risk losing the audience. Forbes is a bit more merciful on attention spans. The media company reported the average audience member will give a presenter a full 10 minutes before starting to tune them out.
Whether 10 seconds or 10 minutes, a presenter must realize that once onstage, they’re living on borrowed time. They need to engage the audience to keep it in the room until the exciting conclusion.
Starting your presentation by muttering “Thank you for coming” and showing an outline isn’t exactly a crowd-pleaser. Instead, jump-start the session by opening with a story (preferably one related to the topic), a humorous anecdote (similarly related) or a question directed at the audience. Whatever opening you decide on, make sure it can capture a drifting audience’s attention and make it stick around.
If you plan on using a hook to catch your listeners off-guard, make sure the intro remains pertinent to the discussion. Note that an off-topic hook can fall flat without additional relevance. Whatever the hook attempt, just make sure that once you have their attention, you make their time worthwhile.
How long should a presentation last? We know 10 minutes is the threshold before audiences begin to peel themselves away from the discussion. But a typically compelling presentation will likely take more than 10 minutes unless it’s a TED Talk. A typical TED Talk runs less than 10 minutes, and organizers have said the 18-minute limit is an absolute cut-off and not an approximation.
Considering a person’s average attention span, former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki thought of the 10/20/30 rule when making a presentation. The 10/20/30 rule simply states that an effective presentation should:
- Have 10 slides
- Take less than 20 minutes
- Use a font size smaller than 30 pts
Kawasaki said he originally came up with the rule to prevent an attack of Ménière’s disease, which makes listening to any presentation uncomfortable after a few minutes. As a venture capitalist, he had to listen to an inordinate amount of pitches that often run down the allotted 60 minutes with excessive slides or unnecessary details. For the 10/20/30 rule, a presenter has 10 slides to make his point within 20 minutes. That gives them the remaining 40 minutes to answer any questions or close the deal.
Who doesn’t love hearing stories, especially new ones? Stories have a logical sequence that starts at the origin and ends after a successful resolution of the conflict. In between, the protagonist witnesses the development of conflict and will often arrive at a climactic scene to attempt a resolution.
In telling a story, a presenter usually bridges the narrative with the actual topic to establish relevance. A good, happy ending in the story can also mean happy endings for the audience if it buys the product or uses the offered solution.
Storytelling presentation methods take many forms aside from a heroic journey. They also include nested loops, where a storyteller refers to a story as told to another person. Meanwhile, sparklines describe a real-world situation contrasted with an alternate but more positive scenario. Another story type is the false start, where the hero attempts multiple wrong solutions before ending up with the right one.
Whatever storytelling method a presenter chooses, the presentation story should only take around one and a half minutes to complete. Anything longer or more complicated to narrate might take its toll on a restless audience. Instead of delivering a powerful analogy, listeners might turn against the presenter and the product out of disappointment.
Apart from various presentation methods, there are also a number of presentation styles to choose from. Styles are the manners in which a presentation is made. Here are five of the more common and popular presentation styles used by people to effectively convey their desired message. Often, the complexity of a presentation determines the type of presentation style used.
1. Freeform Style
As the name implies, the freeform presentation style relies on the presenter knowing their script well enough to present on the spot. This presentation method is great for speakers who don’t require slideshow backgrounds and aren’t afraid to deliver impromptu speeches.
The freeform style is a great presentation method to use when pressed for time or asked on the spot. However, anybody attempting to deliver a freeform presentation without actually knowing the content details will likely get into trouble as questions start flowing.
2. Visual Style
The visual presentation style is the use of graphic elements to support an oral presentation being delivered. This entails the use of slideshow presentation software to display supporting images in the background while the speaker tells the story. Graphs, charts, tables and stock images can enhance the presentation and add more detail to an already informative slideshow.
Visuals are great when explaining complicated topics or ideas that have data points. However, visuals are useless if the presenter’s topic is abstract and short. In these cases, a freeform style is likely what’s needed.
3. Instructor Style
Similar to the visual style, the instructor style takes on complicated presentation topics requiring lots of analogies, figures of speeches and data points. As the presenter aims to educate the audience, the instructor’s style requires a lot of support images as well as a long, instructional oral presentation. Teachers, trainers and coaches often use this presentation style to explain complicated topics or visually show how products, services or processes work.
The instructor presentation style is great to use when you need to go over a complex set of instructions with your audience. However, be careful when applying metaphors and other figures of speech. Using too many analogies might backfire and confuse your audience more. Unless you have thorough knowledge of what’s being presented, you shouldn’t attempt instructor presentations.
4. Lessig Style
Named after Harvard professor and founder of the Center for Internet and Society Lawrence Lessig, the Lessig style is a rapid-paced presentation style geared toward larger audiences. In this style, each slide can stay onscreen for a maximum of 15 seconds. In addition, text will only appear on a slide if it matches the speaker’s exact words.
The Lessig style is an ideal approach to use when making a fast presentation within a specific time limit. The quick pace is great for engaging and educating large audiences. Conversely, the Lessig style won’t work as well with novice presenters who might find the pace too frantic for their experience level.
5. Takahashi Style
The Takahashi style of presentation, named after its proponent Masayoshi Takahashi, is the opposite of graphics-heavy Lessig and visual styles. In fact, there are no visuals found in the Takahashi style of presentations. Instead, text in super large fonts dominates each slide. Users select a keyword to display for every slide.
While innovative, the Takahashi style is more suitable for non-Latin alphabet languages such as Japanese and Korean. Also, most of those who attend a Takahashi-style presentation will need to listen more carefully during the presentation due to the lack of supporting visuals.
Why Choosing the Right Presentation Methods Is Important
Matching the presentation with the presentation style is important. It takes time to develop an actual, effective slideshow. And if you happen to choose the wrong format when developing a presentation, you could find yourself either lacking content to display or severely in need of additional slides.
For example, applying the Takahashi style to an instructor-style presentation can backfire badly. Instructor presentations require a steady stream of visuals such as graphs, tables, charts and images. However, the Takahashi style doesn’t use images in the presentation. Another example would be insisting on applying a Lessig style of presentation to freeform presentations, which don’t require visual backgrounds.
How to Choose the Right Presentation Style
To avoid making costly mistakes, always check the presentation requirements first. Determine if your presentation requires visuals, images or simply supportive background. Then, consider the length and complexity of your presentation. When speaking, will you need more than 15 seconds per slide? If yes, you can eliminate rapid-pace styles like Lessig and freeform and instead focus on visual-rich styles.
You’ll also need to consider your audience before finalizing the style to use. Do listeners need detailed information to appreciate your presentation better? Or, have they heard you present before and somewhat know what you’re talking about? The answer to both questions can help determine whether you need a rapid-fire presentation method or an explainer style that’s heavy on visuals.
Finally, think about how you plan to end the presentation. The call to action can also influence the style required. For instance, pitching for funding or asking the crowd to buy your product will require lots of charts and data proof for your thesis. But for raising brand awareness or increasing your brand visibility, a session of compelling storytelling can do the trick.
Best Practices for Creating a Powerful Presentation
Creating a presentation shouldn’t be a heavy burden, especially when dealing with topics you and your team are very familiar with. Use these popular practices to bring together the best elements for your next presentation:
Present Problems, Then Show Solutions
As a solutions provider, the audience will expect you to be familiar with its problems. Otherwise, it wouldn’t bother showing up to your presentation. By acknowledging a customer’s pain points and tying them to your offered solutions, you can increase the perceived value of your product or service.
Getting to the root of the audience’s pain points will require heavy research prior to your talk. An exploratory interview can help determine the right people to talk to about their challenges. Once you identify them, have a quick meeting to learn more about their concerns.
However, start in-depth discussions about potential solutions with your team only after you’re sure you understand the client’s predicament. Then, before adopting a solution, have your team attack each proposal to see if they’ll stand to scrutiny. As a result, you’ll come to the next meeting ready and confident the solutions you propose tailor-fit the specific problems the client is facing.
Did you notice that, throughout the process, the word “selling” was never mentioned? That’s because buying will occur naturally once the audience realizes what you have is exactly what it needs.
Be a Showman in Your Presentation
Being a showman doesn’t necessarily mean including a song-and-dance routine in your scheduled pitch. However, making an impact and getting engagement means creating a lasting impression that should linger well after the presentation.
The secret to making a killer presentation is plain old prep work. If you know the information like the back of your hand, you’ll have no problem presenting your case, even among objections and skeptics. Knowing your stuff can also give you a massive boost of confidence, as you can repeatedly get back on track despite a myriad of distractions. In a room full of expectant audience members, stay confident and project a calm and collected but passionate attitude. You’ll know you’ve made it when the crowd sees you as someone genuinely interested in helping others solve a problem.
Additionally, stay aware of your presentation limits. If you have a strict time allotment, make sure you use an applicable presentation method like a 10/20/30 or a controlled but engaging storytelling session.
Being a showman means having the audience buy into your ideas. By keeping listeners interested in the presentation contents, they’re more likely to recognize your proposal’s value and accept your solution.
Believe in Your Product
Being a pitchman who’s not confident about your product is a losing proposition. You should be the biggest, most excited kid in the room when it comes to showing off what you have to offer. The moment you reveal your product, the audience should stop seeing you as a salesperson and instead see you as a solutions provider.
However, be careful when acting as a product evangelist. Your belief in your product should be authentic and not something motivated by a desire to close a deal. Audiences can spot a shill easily, and pretending can seriously hamper your efforts to come across as genuinely interested in solving their problems.
Engage Your Audience
Engaging your audience doesn’t mean telling it what it wants to hear. Your choice of presentation methods and styles will greatly affect how your audience reacts to everything you say. So if you took the time to learn what can engage your clients, then you’ll find it even easier to connect with them while you’re onstage.
Audience engagement also means keeping clients in the conversation instead of staying locked in a monologue. Ask audience members questions and let them share experiences. Keep the conversation flowing in the direction that ends with you providing a solution.
Finally, engaging means getting the audience to see things your way before arriving at the conclusion. The trick in doing so lies in two things: how prepared your story is, and how prepared the audience is to listen to that story. Your knowledge of the client’s problems, your confidence in the solution and your genuine interest in helping combine to make your presentation engaging, memorable and productive.
How Tools Help Improve Your Presentation Methods
The tools you use to build your story can help the audience buy into your ideas. For instance, in some cases, a client’s busy schedule means they can only view your presentation on their own time rather than hearing you deliver it in person. If you use the right tools when creating your presentation, then you shouldn’t be afraid of losing your advantage.
Choosing cloud-based interactive presentation software lets you develop a presentation that tells the story in the manner you want it to. Interactive elements allow you to add details that show up when the viewer performs an action. It also helps if you make your presentation dynamic and enable viewers to move back and forth between different sections when reading. That way, they can revisit certain areas and ideas to validate your points. More importantly, it allows for better-looking and more engaging content.
During the development, collaboration features allow you to get input from your team members remotely. Working jointly on a presentation now means logging into a cloud app instead of having an all-nighter at the office. With easier collaboration comes more efficient ways to share ideas and make improvements.
More Tips and Tricks to Help Develop Your Presentation Methods
A presenter is only as good as their last presentation. So, there’s definitely work needed to be done to keep your presentation skills fresh, relevant and engaging.
Practice and Polish
Perfecting your presentation methods requires you to sharpen your skills every chance you get. It also means you’ll have to put in additional work to improve the output of every presentation.
Continuous improvements also mean taking the time to polish your work before sending presentations off to clients. Having your peers review and make comments or suggestions can help you see things you previously didn’t notice. That’s why additional pairs of eyes should always be appreciated when they’re available.
Watch Other Presenters
To become a master in any craft, you must start as a student. Even if you’re already a seasoned presenter, you can’t go wrong looking up other notable presenters and learning how they captivate an audience or save a doomed presentation at the last minute. For the presentation scholar, listening to great speeches from the past can give you ideas on how master orators can keep an audience hanging onto every word.
Take Advantage of Technology
Making use of existing tech tools can give you an edge when competing for attention with your rivals. For example, use cloud-based interactive presentation software to breathe more life into the stories you tell. In addition, take advantage of collaboration and productivity software to share your work with your team and get their input.
Upgrade Your Presentation Methods With Ingage
Presenting is a skill many people desire to have but few want to work on. Selling an idea is easier if you know your audience and are aware of its problems. More importantly, you should believe in your solutions and confidently stand by them. To show the world all this knowledge requires awesome presentation skills and mastery of various presentation methods. While research and practice make perfect, using modern tools can also help improve your presentation skills.
Ingage is cloud-based interactive presentation software that helps you and your team create engaging content for your clients. Collaboration features allow you to remotely share your work with your team so you can jointly develop the presentation. Once finished, simply send the presentation link to your clients so they can view the pitch at their leisure.
Ingage’s analytics features also allow you to track viewer responses to your presentation. In addition, it can tell you which sections resonated with your audience and which areas need improvement.
Let Ingage turn your presentations into engaging, compelling stories clients can relate to. Contact us today, and we’ll be happy to arrange a free demonstration.