Friends & Friction: Good undies and sound advice for a fine presentation

2014-07-03 10:00

Always remember that people who have come to your presentation have actually come to see you and listen to you.

They haven’t come to watch a PowerPoint show with you as the operator, so look your best because that says you respect your audience. Remember that too many great ideas have died because of a poor presentation.

The reason they are called “bullet points” is because they bore your audience to death. So don’t use them at all. If you absolutely have to, keep them short.

Do you disagree? Nelson Mandela never used any slides. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech was 17 minutes long and included songs. You have no business to be longer than that unless you intend to change the world in a more meaningful way.

The best speeches are the shortest. If you’ve been given an hour, keep your presentation to no more than 23 minutes and use the rest of the time for questions and to build rapport.

Don’t try to cover everything. Stick to a few things and explain them well.

Wear good underwear, it will give you confidence. No holes in your socks or stockings. Don’t wear new shoes. You need to be comfortable from head to toe.

Never present while sitting down, there is a reason preachers and teachers stand. They get to command the room.

Men must never present while wearing shorts. As for women, if they choose to wear a short skirt, they should not pull it down all the time. It draws attention to what they are trying to hide.

If you’re going to tell a joke, make sure it is funny otherwise you look like an idiot. Never be patronising. If you’re going to use an African name to impress, make sure you can pronounce it correctly or stick with the generic “Jabu”.

There is no one called Vuzi and calling Muzi “Musi” is like calling Jen “Jane”.

If you have included something in your presentation, never say “I’m not going to bore you with that one?…” and skip it. If it’s worth mentioning, it’s worth talking about.

Never tell your audience you are nervous. It doesn’t help in gaining sympathy. Learn to present with butterflies going crazy in your stomach. The only way to deal with nervousness is to rehearse, rehearse and rehearse some more.

Once you’ve developed a script, stick to it – spontaneity is a set of well-rehearsed responses. Develop a routine. Arrive an hour early, test your equipment, meet your hosts and develop a rapport.

If you have to go to the toilet, make sure you wash and wipe your hands thoroughly. No one wants to shake clammy hands.

When you are offered tea, coffee or water, unless it is for medical or religious reasons, have some. When your host offers you cappuccino, jump for that as it means you acknowledge their show-off. Biscuits are great, but make sure you don’t talk while munching. If someone becomes difficult, remain polite.

Do your best and don’t worry about the result. A negative answer doesn’t mean you were wrong; sometimes you are ahead of your time. Have the confidence to develop your own style and be brave to ignore all else, including my advice.

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