There have been many times in my IT career that I’ve had to give presentations, and if you haven’t consider yourself lucky. My presentations have covered Network Design, Network Upgrades, and Software Implementation all the way down to weekly user training. I’ve made many mistakes in my presentations when I started out (and sometimes still do) and have sat through many grueling presentations, that made me consider jumping out the window.
Now by no means am I what you would call a professional presenter, packing people into a Marriott to give classes every weekend, but I am someone who has done it enough to have learned from it. Since I know there are other out there giving a pitch for new hardware or a project, I’ve created some basic rules:
Know your objective
A lot of people make the mistake of just reporting facts, when they are asked to present they come with “just the facts” and they tend to bore everyone with the facts. The objective of your presentation isn’t to bore the participants to death with facts, but is to get a point across. When starting to prepare a presentation, make sure you know what the end goal of it is…either approval for a project, get new hardware, etc. Without knowing what the goal is, your project will waver and you’ll just be pitching nothing.
Mind your Time
I think we’ve all found ourselves in the presentation or pitch that is 1 hour in to a 30 minute presentation. A lot of presenters that I’ve seen make this mistake is due to not enough practice or not knowing their objective. Keep the presentation or pitch as short and as concise as possible.
Don’t forget to be yourself
Many people have a fear of public speaking, and it can be a hard thing to get over, but you are going to want to. If you ever watched anyone who is scared and speaking monotone and quickly make you wish it was over just as much as they do. Make sure your personality shows through your presentation, it makes the it seem more personal.
“The Rule of 3″
I didn’t learn this rule, but it’s something I’ve seen on several websites that I thought could be very helpful.
“At the start of the presentation, tell them what you’re going to tell them. Then, tell them. At the end of the presentation, tell them what you just told them. “
I think this is from the old add saying that you should repeat a product name several times to make it stick in people’s heads. If you have people like me in your pitch or presentation, I may not be 100% focused on your presentation…and I know there are many people out there just like me. We all have 20 things going on in our heads, and the repetitive message will help us remember.
Documents should be brief
Some vendors that I’ve met with has handed out documentation during or after the pitch or presentation. Depending on the amount of documents that I’ve been given, I’ve either read through, glimpsed or not read at all. Make sure that just like your presentation any documentation should be brief and concise. This make the likelihood of someone reading it higher, since it’s not like being handed homework.