You’re in a big meeting with the boss and your co-workers. Or maybe you’re presenting to new clients outside the company. You’ve done your homework, prepped your AV devices, even practiced a few times in front of the mirror. But are you really ready? Some tips to help make your presentation more memorable and effective:
Don’t Confuse Them with Endless Details
It’s okay to drill down on a topic, but only if it’s central to the entire message. Going into too much detail on peripheral items is one sure way to lose an audience. Stay focused.
Practice in Front of Colleagues
Do this to make your presentation as smooth as possible. No awkward pauses or fumbling with props, AV tools or overheads. Hone your body language until the entire presentation becomes as natural as speaking to your closest friends. Refine and perfect the intro and the wrap up. These are key.
Avoid Acronyms and Excessive Tech Speak
Your audience may not be familiar with the acoynyms and technical terms you use around the office. If you’re presenting to an outside company, this sort of insider diaglog can sound like you’re speaking in tongues. If you must use acronyms, explain them and use as few as possible.
Be Aware of Your Speech Characteristics
You may also want to look into what the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) discovered about how various speech characteristics influence those around you. They studied recordings of 1,380 introductory calls made by 100 male and female telephone interviewers. Interviewers' speech rates, fluency and pitch were analyzed for their persuasive ability.
They concluded that people who speak at a moderately fast rate--about 3.5 words per second—are far more successful at getting people to agree with them than slow talkers. Those who speak too fast were perceived as slightly deceptive while very slow talkers were seen as condescending or even dim-witted. They also noted that people who sounded animated with variations in pitch risked coming across as artificial or “salesy.”
Voice pitch also seemed to play a role in one’s persuasive ability. Men with higher pitched voices were less persuasive than their lower pitched counterparts. Pitch did not matter as much in women. Finally, speakers who used frequent short pauses were more successful because they sounded less scripted or rehearsed.
The bottom line is that preparation is key when giving a business presentation. Be aware of your audience and your personal speech style. And practice, practice, practice.