One of the advantages of the IT&C industry is that when you are very good at what you do (programming, project management, software testing, or business analysis), there are high chances that at some point in the future you will be in a position to give a presentation – in front of the client, colleagues, or at an industry event.
The problem is that most people see these situations not as opportunities but rather as aspects to avoid. Public speaking is not something that develops naturally, for many reasons… far too many to cover in this article. But what we need to know is that, as in any other area, there are strategies and tactics that when used correctly reduce the level of anxiety and increase the quality of presentations.
So below are some tips to improve our presentations:
Outline the presentation
Most companies suffer from PowerPoint syndrome. Every meeting must come bundled with a PowerPoint presentation to be considered useful. We will not talk here about how useful a PowerPoint presentation is, but we have highlighted this topic because it is generally the first thing people start working on before the presentation itself..
The first thing we need to do is think about the purpose of the presentation. Do we want to inform people or do we want to convince them to do or buy something? Are we interested in selling a software program or helping new colleagues learn how to work with internal systems? A clear goal and brainstorming dashboard ideas is the first step towards a successful presentation. After we have established the objective, we start to put on paper the main ideas from the presentation and how we will communicate them.
One of the great challenges people face when it comes to presentations is how to get over emotions. The answer here is that emotions never go away but we can diminish them. And we do this through practice. It takes time and energy for this and for this reason many people do not go through this stage. And it is the same reason why many presentations do not fulfill their purpose.
It is important to practice the presentation before (at least three times), preferably in front of an audience (similar to the one in front of which you will give the presentation). These can be your colleagues, your friends, or your half :). The more time you spend practicing the presentation, the lower the level of emotions.
We also have some practice advice. It is important that when practicing the presentation we do not learn it by heart, like a poem. The purpose of the exercise is to increase our level of confidence, to make sure that we go through all the important ideas that we have outlined, and to reach our goal.
SEXI comes from State, Explain, Example, and Impact and should be the skeleton on which we build each of our main ideas in the presentation. When working on ideas, most people want to leave them only at the level of statements – without examples or evidence to support what they said. This will reduce the probability of reaching our set goal.
For example, when we try to convince our team to adopt new technology, we can say, “This technology is better than what we’re using right now.” In other words, a simple statement. Or we can do it SEXI saying “The technology I propose will reduce the time needed to run tests and will increase the clarity of the results. I analyzed some case studies and talked to colleagues who use it and its implementation reduced the test run time by 25% and led to a 30% increase in the correctness of the results.”
Examples, case studies, research, or results support the fact that what we say is true and shows the positive impact, which increases the chances that the proposal will be accepted.
So, in the future, remember these tips and put them into practice to increase the quality of your presentations.