I came across a question on Quora.com from a user asking for the best way to give PowerPoint presentations. I was very impressed with one of the responses because it outlined 10 different tips to deliver great presentations. It was from Nelson Wang, Director of Channel Sales at Box and co-founder of habby.co. I was even more impressed when I visited Nelson’s website, ceolifestyle.io. Take a look at his blog and be prepared to be inspired.
These are Nelson’s top ten tips he gave in response to the question, “What is the best way to give PowerPoint presentations?”
- Tell a story – Many years ago, I saw the CEO of a Fortune 1000 company present. He talked about the vision of the company, discussed the previous year’s financials and also highlighted our product strategy. It was a fine presentation. And then something amazing happened. He told a story of how he traveled to Asia after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. This is the same earthquake that left about 4.8 million people homeless. He showed photos of the families he had met and told us that it was our job to help them through our culture of giving back and with our technology. It was incredibly moving. I remember looking around and seeing people in tears. At that very moment, we were a group with a strong sense of collective purpose. We were unified. We were inspired. That’s the power of a great story.
- Memorize your presentation – If you have notecards in your hand while giving a presentation, you need to toss those. Now. Seriously, throw them as far as you can and run away. You need to learn to memorize your presentation. One of the best ways to learn this skill? Take a theater class. Learning to memorize acting lines is very similar to memorizing a presentation. If you can’t memorize an entire presentation, you can lean on the slides to help you jog your memory, but do not read off the slide. That’s a recipe for boredom. Don’t take the easy way out. Challenge yourself and rise to the occasion.
- More visuals, less words – Seriously folks, take a look at the world around you. We live in a world where people are visually driven. Don’t believe me? Check out this fact: Instagram has over 500 million monthly active users. I’m pretty sure you believe me now. So make sure you use visuals to help convey your message. For example, if I told you a story about my best friend who nearly died and now inspires me to live life to the fullest, wouldn’t that story have more of an emotional impact on you if you actually saw his photo? Thought so. Visuals helps make a personal connection.
- Use huge font – Have you ever seen a slide before with a million words on it?I bet you’re nodding your head right now. Did you ever enjoy watching someone talk through all those bullet points? I bet you’re shaking your head now. Here’s how you can avoid that mistake: Start with font size 40. I’m dead serious. This will force you to be concise. Want to know where I got this idea from? Guy Kawasaki. He was Apple’s Chief Evangelist for 4 years. He’s one of the best presenters I’ve seen. Learn from the best. Go big.
- Strong eye contact – Don’t stare at people. That’s just creepy. Do hold strong eye contact for a few seconds. It shows that you’re engaging the audience.
- The audience is your friend – So engage them like they’re your friends. Bring out your charisma. Get them to laugh. Inspire them. Motivate them. Excite them. Want to know an easy way to do this? Ask them questions. Get them involved! I do this all the time at executive dinners that I host. Guess what happens? Usually the audience provides answers that are hilarious and it can completely change the mood of the room for the better. Is it a little bit risky? Sure, because you never know what someone will say. But most of the time, it turns out really well. Don’t be afraid of the unknown.
- Own the room – When I was in the Cisco training program, one of the things we would practice is “owning the room.” As we practiced our presentations, we would walk around to different parts of the room. I’m not telling you to pace around like a mad man. I’m asking you to explore the room. Find out what feels natural to you. And then take your strides in confidence. Own it.
- Gesture with intention – Don’t wave your arms around like an air traffic controller. Do gesture with intention when you’re emphasizing a point.
- Hands by your side – Because if you’re simply holding your hands together the whole time in a triangle, you’ll look like Monty Burns.
10. And most importantly, have fun – Because life’s too short for boring presentations. And you want to know a secret? A presentation isn’t just about presenting the numbers. A presentation isn’t just about giving an operations update. A presentation isn’t just about customer satisfaction ratings. A presentation is a chance for you to make a difference in someone’s life.