Opportunities to present your ideas, qualifications and proposals come up every single day. Here are some ways that you can prepare yourself to make the most of those situations when they arise.
Take a minute to think about your next presentation. What do you picture? A roomful of professionals gathered, a mahogany podium ready for you, and a carefully-designed slide show ready to burst forth from your laptop?
Maybe. But it’s more likely your next presentation will come in a chance encounter in the hallway, during a phone call, over a cup of coffee, or even at a tailgate party. Someone might casually ask you “What’s the best solution,” “What do you think,” or even simply “What do you do?”
Opportunities to present come up daily. You’re always presenting to someone in today’s world, and the same skills used in speaking to a group will help you be prepared for these important conversations.
Preparation is the key to making the most of impromptu opportunities. Preparation means practicing: by yourself in your car, in front of your mirror, or even with family and friends. Tighten up your skills by practicing in low-pressure situations where the results don’t matter that much. Like a comedian testing out new material at a small club, these are great opportunities to try something unique or different, and see how people react.
We suggest planning a two-minute presentation for yourself, using imaginary scenarios (someone seated next to you on a plane, or a one-on-one meeting with your boss) to inspire your thinking. You can write it out, make a list of bullet points, or just build it in your head. Here are a few tips:
- Start with a POW! Think of a quote, statistic, or interesting piece of information that sets a context for what you will be saying. “One-third of all people still use a smartphone just for making and answering calls.”
- Introduce yourself. This means identifying you, your company, its mission or focus, and the market it serves.
- Focus on benefits rather than details. “We help companies make better use of technology” rather than “I’m in sales for a company that makes 60 different software products.”
- Call attention to anything unique, new or exciting. “We’ve just launched a new financing program that makes affordable mortgages available to lower-income families.”
- Don’t rush. Even if you set a time limit for yourself, no one can present well if they’re trying to cram in too much material. Skip most of the details. If they’re really important to this conversation, the details will come up, either later or in a follow-up.
- Take time to be a good listener. If this is a new contact, PROBE. Ask good questions, and learn something interesting about them.
As you get more comfortable with your ability to carry out impromptu presentations, you’ll find yourself seeking out opportunities to deliver them. This practice will help you come across more confidently in all types of situations.
And if you want to get your team involved, consider playing PowerPoint Karaoke (also known as Battle Decks) at an all employee after-hours event. This is a fun, interactive activity in which participants must stand up in front of the group to deliver short, impromptu PowerPoint presentations. The catch is…they won’t know what slides are going to appear behind them until the timer begins! The “judging” can be based on whatever factors you want—delivery style, content, audience response, etc. Do a search for PowerPoint Karaoke or Battledecks to find more information and slide decks you can use.