“Good! Adaptation. Improvisation. But your weakness is not your technique.” -Morpheus, The Matrix

Delivering A Presentation – How Would You Prepare?

A few years back, I was interviewing for a sales engineering position with a large enterprise storage company. During the interview, the hiring manager asked me how I would prepare to deliver a presentation if I had to go out with a sales rep.

Having been in sales and participated in numerous Dale Carnegie programs, I considered this an easy question. So, I replied that I would first contact the client and ask them a few questions to understand their technical expertise. You don’t want to talk over your audience’s head. Nor do you want to insult their intelligence. Then I would ask them some questions about their objectives and what type of limitations they were encountering. Of course, this also involves consulting the sales rep to review any information that they had gathered from the client.

His response stunned me. The interviewer told me that wasn’t the way to do it. The answer that he was looking for was: go down to marketing and get the PowerPoint presentation.

I don’t know if this is still a common practice at this company, but it’s the lazy man’s way out. First, the presenter doesn’t have to think about what is going to capture the audience’s attention. Nor does the presenter have to think about maintaining the audience’s attention, not when they have PowerPoint slides to lean on.

Second, the presenter has a suitable excuse if the presentation does not go well: It’s marketing’s fault for making a lousy PowerPoint presentation.

Use PowerPoint To Enhance Your Message

One of the points that we just covered in the most recent High Impact Presentations program is that the PowerPoint slides are not the message. They only enhance the message. When delivering a presentation in front of a group of people, remember that you are still the center of attention. The main message has to come from you. If you could deliver your message with nothing more than a bunch of slides, there would be no reason for you to stand in front of the group and perform the presentation. Just email out the slides to everyone and you’re done.

I’ve never been a big fan of giving a canned presentation based on a bunch of “professionally-created” slides. However, there is value to having visually stimulating, attention-getting slides.

If you are like me and you don’t have that visual flair, you will need to team up with a graphic artist who can create your slides. But keep in mind that the artist probably doesn’t have a feel for the dynamics of platform presentations. And they won’t have a feel for the nuances of your message. So, stay in control. This is your message. The slides are there to accentuate your presentation, not to overpower it.

There were many other ideas and tactics that we covered in the most recent High Impact Presentations program. But if you are interested in the various aspects of using PowerPoint, I would suggest you sneak a peek at Seth Godin’s blog post on bad PowerPoint. The ideas that he suggests will be major wake up call for many presenters in spite of the fact that this document has been on the internet since 2007.

Bottom-line here is this: Don’t use PowerPoint as a crutch. Stay in control when delivering your message

Now, if you do many presentations and you want more ideas on what we cover in this program, take heart! We’ll discuss other aspects of PowerPoint and presentations in future posts.

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