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  • Maria Cristina Brodu

How to deliver effective business presentations

Proactively sharing useful resources is a form of collaboration that is aimed at helping each other to grow and thrive. Therefore, I share here my main takes from a 2017 EY training about "delivering good presentations", and I start by unpacking suggested resources.


Steve Job's slide shows, starting with "we have some great staff today":

- key number/word/quote/phrase/graph

- key images: evocative or illustrative

- users' stories, product features demos*

- table: to illustrate, highlight focus, compare

- semantic hierarchy: by characters' font/size

- green/amber/red list of benefits/drawbacks

RSA Animate's videos, to deliver ideas, views, opinionated stories:

- speech snapshots, conveyed in meme-style

- representation of ideas in words and images

- humour in images for attention and ideas flow

Tom Peters's body language to express attitude and to emphasis:

- walks up and down the stage, energetic

- turbines hands, going on-and-on with list

- points parallel palms/cut to make a point

- opens/swings arm/s if lists action to take

- swings hand for cadence or questioning

- opens hand palm up for obvious answer

[Related, how to reinforce verbal comms with visual hand gestures:

The Storytellers explains how storytelling can support a narrative:

- share small stories that represent positive lived experiences

- link the personal small stories to the organisation’s narrative

- show what it looks like to thrive: success stories counter bad

Above: Maria Cristina Brodu presenting at the EY training about delivering effective presentation


Structures, according to the objective, and audience of the presentation:

- Situation + Complication (why this presentation: objective). Question. Answer.

- Context + Trigger. Qs + Answers (what we know; how we can fix it/prevent it)

- Objective (evidence 1, 2, 3). Conclusion. Advice -> audience draw conclusion

- Recommendation. Conclusions to support it (evidence a, b, c) -> report writing

- Objective. Issues (issue 1, 2, 3). Conclusion. Advice -> to deliver bad news

- Boom (grabber). Wow wow wow (from calm to drama). Boom -> news, movies

Strategic parts of a presentation: what the audience remembers the most

- Introduction (what's in it for the audience). Credentialise (why you). Conclusion

- Agenda: manage expectations and Qs timing; inform about summary handouts

- Light bulb time: if the logic is clear, audience comes to conclusion and retains it

- Interaction, or group activities, to help audience to understand it by themselves

- Pause if you show a complex visual to digest; use blank screens if you ask Qs

Voice: influences perception of presenter, conveys emotion to audience

- emphasis on words. Pitch. Volume. Pace (faster for excitement). Silence gaps

Body language: 80-90% of communication in presentations is non-verbal

- build rapport with audience: eye contact, point of focus in the face (e.g. front)

- stand: feet shoulders-width-apart; balanced/centred; no crossed arms/hands

- seat: upright (no leaning), hands on table, feet on floor or cross legs (no feet!)

- movement: set the room to walk between 3 points (e.g. water, flip chart, laptop)

- only a glance at notes, to not lose the audience (or take a pause, read, restart)

- audience retains after 48 hours: 10% of what heard, 35% seen, 65% combined

Language: the simpler the better, with verbs in active and positive form

- acronyms, professional jargon: define it before to use it (if it may be unfamiliar)

- 'lose' vs 'save': "continue to lose"/miss opportunity" more impactful than "save"

- don't assume knowledge ("as you should know") but ask audience if they know

- instead of using rhetoric questions, turn them into actual engaging questions

- have breaks to refresh the audience's attention; pause after making a point

- call specific people in the audience to answer a question, as attention grabber

- no more than 20 words sentences: succinct phrases are easier to understand

- slides are an outline, not a script: with too much info to reads, no one listens

- tell a story to describe the data: how it started/ended, journey/challenges/takes

- hierarchic structure: big picture content is easier to absorb (no dive into details)

- data to support a point (add data source); examples to facilitate understanding

Get buying-in, and buyers' defence of purchase in front to their hierarchy

- it's people who decide what to buy for their organisation: usually risk adverse

- self-interest: buyers think "what's in it for me" not for the firm (helps promote?)

- build trust through relationship, to develop purchasing confidence in the buyer

Team presentations: for impact, memorable content, display of teamwork

- upfront definition of roles and responsibilities and version control management

- housekeeping: proof reading by independent party unfamiliar with the content

- handover between speakers: introduce the next person who's going to talk

- agree on dress code, session and presentation time for each, relative location

- stroking: listen and look at speaker, endorse what said before to add more to it

- 'master of ceremony': introduction, conclusion, directs Qs to all team members

- balance looking at speaker and at audience, to create rapport with eye contact

Above: Maria Cristina Brodu presenting in 2017 during her EY 's training about delivering presentations


Above: feedback about Maria Cristina Brodu's presentation before the start of her EY's training in 2017


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