As a PR professional, you probably spend large parts of your day fostering relationships with journalists. You’re normally trying to convince other professionals in one way or another—tirelessly befriending people who can influence your brand’s success.
But there’s one thing that terrifies even the most experienced PR specialists: giving presentations. Getting in front of C-level executives and delivering a 30-minute presentation often seems like a daunting task.
Whether you’re offering media training to other employees, promoting your idea to executives, or pitching potential clients, the following tips can help you leave a lasting impression whenever you make a presentation. Let’s dive in.
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1. Plan a straightforward structure
Failing to come up with a strategy makes you seem disorganized. You may start rambling, talking about many points without any order. To prevent this, ensure you prepare a structure that’s easy to follow.
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Your structure should have these important sections:
- Engaging introduction: Briefly tell the audience what they can expect from your presentation. Explain how it might be useful to them.
- Body of evidence: Here’s where you drop all the interesting facts and quotes that support your points.
- Summary: Explain some important takeaways that your audience needs to grasp.
2. Create a preparation ritual
Surprisingly, some PR professionals try to present their material without any preparation. As you might expect, such presentations often don’t end well. Unless you’re put on the spot, never skimp on preparations.
An even better idea would be to develop a ritual. This way, you’ll know exactly what to do for your upcoming presentation as well as any planned for the future. Your routine can look like this:
A day before addressing your audience, rehearse at least twice — before you sleep and after you wake up. Ensure you know your material well enough, so much so that even if you lost your notes, you would still be able to give a decent speech. Be careful, though–rehearsing too many times beforehand can cause you to sound robotic when the day comes.
Get your outfit ready
Don’t wait until the day to plan your outfit. Prepare suitable attire days in advance. When the day comes, you may have too much on your mind, and choosing between outfits may just cause more stress.
If possible, try to check out the room you’ll be presenting in. Find out as much as possible about your audience beforehand. Small details—like room temperature, if the seats are comfortable, and room size—can impact your audience’s attention span. Knowing these details will allow you to adjust your style of presenting.
Check your facts
In the PR world, things turn on a dime. On top of adequate research, you’ll also need to anticipate change. So, ensure you keep your presentation up to date.
3. Get your slide shows in order
The problem with many PR presenters is that they often go overboard, overdoing their slide shows and confusing their listeners. To avoid this, you can follow advice from Guy Kawasaki, a former Chief Evangelist of Apple. His 10-20-30 rule states that presenters need to:
- Make sure they have less than 10 slides.
- Present for 20 minutes or less.
- Have a font size of 30 points and higher.
Make sure your slides are easy on the eye; they shouldn’t be a chore to follow. If you feel your slides aren’t displaying enough information after following the 10-20-30 rule, you can create descriptive handouts. Offer these handouts to listeners after you’re done presenting.
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Also, make sure you’re consistent with your slides. This doesn’t mean that they should all be identical—you’d bore your readers. Instead, they should feature a similar style to give your presentation a more cohesive look and feel.
That’s where templates come into play. They connect slides and guide your listeners visually when you present new information. They save on time, too. You can download PowerPoint templates that help attract the attention of your audience with compelling imagery.
4. Add some complementary images
Visual images are easier to remember than text. For instance, instead of compiling a list which details how you can maintain your brand’s reputation, you can prepare an interesting image that illustrates your points.
That said, having too much text isn’t the only ‘crime against slideshows’ you can commit. Reading from a slide—that your audience can see—is an equally serious misstep. In fact, doing so is one of the easiest ways to put your readers to sleep.
If you start reading from your slideshow, your listeners will inevitably join you. And as research shows, our minds tend to wander between 20% to 40% of our reading time. Remember to use your slideshows to emphasize important points, not as something to read to the group.
5. Work on your stage presence
As a novice PR speaker, physically standing before your audience is often the most terrifying part of presenting. It’s easy to worry that your nervousness is showing. What you should know, though, is that nerves aren’t always a bad thing.
In fact, your listeners are expecting you to be a little uneasy. A little nervousness can, surprisingly, win over your listeners. Provided you’re authentic, you can create an atmosphere where they’re actually rooting for you.
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With that in mind, other than acknowledging your vulnerability, here are other ways you can improve your stage presence:
- Try to appear bigger, so you can boost your self-confidence.
- Make sure you make gestures that emphasize your points.
- Avoid making too many movements, swaying around, or shifting your weight unnecessarily.
- Maintain eye contact so you can connect with listeners.
- Ensure your voice is natural and expressive. Assume you’re having a conversation with a friend.
Handling your brand’s public image comes with its own set of challenges. Presentations shouldn’t bring additional stress to your already nerve-racking days. With some effort—and the 5 hacks above—you too can give compelling presentations.