10 Resolutions That Will Improve Your Presentations This Year

Posted 01.05.2012

A senior executive friend of mine spends a lot of time listening to presentations. A few weeks ago, he sent me an e-mail from a two-day conference he was attending. After 10 or 12 hours of bad presentations, he began to take out his frustration by using his iPad to write a set of rules for presenters. He then sent it to me for a sanity check.

The good news is he’s totally sane. His rules make a lot of sense and can serve as a list of resolutions for presenters who want to improve their craft in 2012 (or any year for that matter).

I asked him if he wanted to byline a guest post on this blog, but he concluded that probably wasn’t his best career move right now. He was OK, however, with me sharing his plaintive pleas for presenters.

Here’s the list:

1.  Use an economy of words. Be ruthlessly efficient in the words you use, and speak quickly. Hold my attention by challenging me to keep up with you.

2.  Proper tone and volume. Come at me with energy, a positive attitude and sufficient volume.

3.  Fewer words, fewer slides. Don’t feed me PowerPoint. Use the slides as you must to guide you in talking with me, not using the slides to communicate for you.

4.  Show videos. A good one will reinforce your point.

5.  Tell stories. I’ll forget data but remember a story.

6.  Know the audience and communicate appropriately. Start with me. What do you want me to know?

7.  Believe what you’re selling. If you don’t passionately believe it, don’t expect me to.

8.  Tell me to do something. Give me a call to action.

9.  Don’t slouch. It’s a podium not a park bench.

10.  It’s not about what you know; it’s about what I need to know. Don’t feed me everything you know, but work backward and leave me with what I need to know.

That’s one senior executive’s list of what he expects from presenters.

What are your favorites? What would you add? If you’re someone who regularly makes presentations, what are your resolutions to raise your level of performance this year?