So you’re probably interested in learning a bit about how to crush your next client kickoff. Well, luckily for you, I’ve got a few tips that have gotten me through some tough calls, or at least prepared for them. Some may be familiar to you, some may be brand-spankin’ new.
Let’s get this list started…
1) Limit your presentation to two ideas per slide
If you’re delivering a presentation, it’s important to communicate the main points of each slide. To ensure you’re not missing your points entirely, try limiting your main ideas on each slide to just two.
This not only makes your presentation a bit easier to digest, but it also makes remembering and ultimately communicating your main ideas a bit easier. For those of us who tend to ramble on or get a bit off-track, this tip will help mitigate those issues.
2) Practice in front of a mirror or webcam
I would be shocked if this was the first time you’ve come across this tip. There’s a reason why this is almost always the first piece of advice a good presenter will pass along, and that’s because it works.
Practicing in front of a mirror gives you a unique advantage of witnessing your own body language and delivery. You better be rehearsing your speech or call notes anyway, so you might as well sit or stand in front of a mirror while you do it.
If you don’t have a mirror readily accessible and don’t feel like reciting a presentation in the office restroom, just open up your webcam. If you really want to get some good practice in, record yourself to get a better feel for your cadence and tone.
This is a great way to track your development through the presentation and really hit those finer details that help bring a presentation together nicely. This is a great tip for those of us who feel like their presentation lacks energy and timing.
3) Be specific
Specificity and precision are extremely important qualities of a good presentation. If you’re delivering the presentation or running the call, you’re supposed to be the subject matter expert. Experts are precise and confident in their delivery because they have the years of experience that comes with the territory of being an expert.
If you don’t happen to have those years under your belt quite yet, that’s fine. Know your material, rehearse it and deliver it confidently. If you can hit your main points with precision and specificity, you can immediately become a subject matter expert in the eyes of everyone in the room.
Example: Suppose you’re the client and you ask about timelines on deliverables. Consider how you would respond to these answers: “I don’t know, like 2 weeks or so” versus “Phase 1 will take 2 weeks and phase 2 will take an additional 4 weeks barring any delays on your end.”
4) Anticipate questions
You need to know more than just the content on your slides, you need to have an idea of what questions your audience will be asking. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself what questions or concerns will come across their mind as you progress through your presentation.
What information is most important to them and have you addressed those important items? If not, be prepared to answer the question that they’re likely going to be asking. As you start listing these questions, you may recognize the need for an additional slide or two.
Being able to not only raise valid questions but answer them in the same slide is the sign of a great presentation being delivered by an expert. That being said, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, let me find that out for you.” Your audience will appreciate the honesty, just as long as you remember to find that answer for them.
5) Slow your roll
Nervous presenters speed through slides. Slow it down a bit and make sure you’re really hitting home on those two main points on each slide. It may feel unnatural forcing yourself to speak slowly, but it won’t come off as such. In fact, it will help make your presentation easier to digest as a whole.
If you’re worried that slowing down your cadence will cause your presentation to go over a certain time allotment, I’ll refer you to my third tip – be specific. This is going to help those of us who are naturally fast talkers as well as those of us who tend to pick up the pace when we’re nervous.
Everyone knows what happens when you don’t prepare, so make sure you put in that extra time perfecting the little things. There isn’t a perfect formula in perfecting each and every client kickoff presentation, and even master presenters slip up sometimes.
These five tips will help you prepare, but mastering the art of presenting comes with a lot of practice and a lot of mistakes.