How to deliver a crowd-pleasing presentation

Top five tips for executives asked to present at events


So your company has been asked to front a speaker for an upcoming industry event. Often it’s easy to default to the old PowerPoint template which gets dusted off every time an invite arrives in the inbox.

To avoid simply going through the motions and to ensure you’re delivering a powerful presentation, here are five tips to help you along the way.

1.       Stay on topic

If the topic of your presentation in the event programme is called ‘mutant dogs on the moon’, then present on that topic.  Too often you attend a presentation with an interesting sounding headline only to find that the actual content is beyond dull. This only serves to aggravate your audience and leave them feeling short-changed. Follow the classic rules of marketing here – under promise, over deliver.

2.       Don’t feel uncomfortable about passing on the baton

Just because the CEO is the most senior person in the company, it doesn’t mean she or he is the right person for speaking engagements. It will reflect much better on your company to select a middle manager or specialist who has real insight on a topic and can present well than have the crowd suffer through a more senior manager who is uncomfortable on stage or not well versed with the topic at hand.  Sometimes it’s a tough conversation to have but it’s always worth it!

3.       No sales pitches allowed

The audience is primarily there to learn something from you, not to buy something from you – that part comes second. While it’s great and always recommended to reference relevant examples or case studies from your business or experience in a presentation to illustrate your points, they should not be used for sales purposes alone. If you have to slide in some shameless self-promotion, try to keep it natural!

4.       Use props to help tell the story, not be the story

You should be considerate with your use of props. Your company may have an excellent five minute video that explains everything you want to say about your business strategy, but is that really going to be the most effective way to convey your message? A good presentation starts with considering what you are trying to convey, then figuring out what (or if) props are needed. Remember many of the most powerful speeches of our time were delivered without a single PowerPoint slide.  

5.       Have fun, be yourself

It’s the kind of advice your Mum may have given you on the first day of school, but it also holds true for public speaking. You can take on all the advice you like about how to dress, speak, stand and what words to use, and you probably won’t get everything right on the day, but if you are look like you are having fun then the audience will naturally be more engaged with you and open to what you have to say.