My top presentation tips

Posted by

Imagine this – you’ve got an amazing deal lined up, you’ve set up meetings with potential investors and you’re all set to give a presentation, hoping they’ll invest. You’ve prepared your slides, you’ve got handouts for everyone, and you know the facts and figures inside out.

As you stand up in front of everyone, your heart starts to race, your start to sweat and your mind goes blank. All the potential investors are staring at you, wondering what’s going on, so you start to speak, only what comes out of your mouth is a series of squeaks and stammers.

Nightmare scenario, right?

An area that I think everyone should seek to improve is the ability to make presentations, find your voice, and to get your point across.

Now, you might be wondering how this relates to real estate investment and if you’re looking at it from a very direct standpoint then you could say it doesn’t, but something I’ve found in is that effective presentation and communication are some of most important skills that you can acquire.

And why is that? Primarily because if you can give a good presentation, and really capture your audience’s attention, you can go a long way to persuading them to work with you!

If you’re going to meet an investor about a great opportunity you want them to back you on, and can give them a top-notch presentation, they’re more likely to commit, because you’ve given them confidence in your abilities.

On the other hand, if you present this same great opportunity poorly (as in my opening), or if you can’t get your point across, people are more likely to pass, not because of the opportunity, but simply because of the way it was presented to them.

Some time ago, I came across a book that changed my life – “Presentation Zen” by Garr Reynolds, It opened my eyes to what it really means to create and deliver powerful presentations (and it also made me understand the most business presentations suck!).

So what can you do to improve your skills? Let’s take a look.

The art of effective presenting

There are three key areas to think about if you want to improve your ability to pitch, present and communicate ideas – and this goes for any size presentation. Most importantly, you need to be able to develop a compelling and captivating message. Without a story that resonates with the audience nothing else will help you.

Secondly, you need to think about the visual side of things – avoid ‘death by powerpoint at all costs! – your presentation tool should amplify and enhance your message.

The third thing to think about is your delivery skill. You might have a great message, but you also need to be able to deliver that message in a way that’s comfortable and convincing. Having a great message but not being able to deliver it effectively is a bit like having a sports car that you don’t know how to drive!

Creating your story

So, going through the three areas in turn, let’s start with your message. How do you come up with a good message, and how can you be sure you’re conveying it effectively?

The first mistake a lot of people make is jumping into Powerpoint way too early in the process of creating their presentation: they just start putting slides together, when what they should be doing first is making sure they know their audience and have a strong, action-oriented objective. The best way to start is with a brainstorm: identify those interesting ideas that can then be included in the content of your presentation.  

You need to transform the audience with your presentation, so ask yourselves a few questions before the presentation (and think about what will happen after the presentation):

  • What does the audience already know about my subject?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What do they believe in relation to my subject?
  • What do I want my audience to do after the presentation?
  • What do they need to feel in order to take action?

Getting your ideas down

Once you have some ideas that can potentially be included in the content of your presentation, it’s a matter of translating those ideas into a clear storyline or structure so you can capture the audience’s attention at the very beginning.

Remember, you need to communicate your key messages – not hundreds of messages. You want maybe three key ideas that you can convey effectively, depending on how much time you have. With each key message you should include some supporting points, like your your analogies, examples and anecdotes, which is what people are going to remember.

Then you need a punchline: your conclusion and a call to action, making it very clear to your audience what your point was and why they should care about it.

Getting the picture

When it comes to putting your slides together, it’s easy to add visuals that connect to your words, or as a reminder of your next talking point. It’s important not to think about your slides not as something for you, but for your audience. Don’t overwhelm them by making them look at too many words and pictures whilst they’re also trying to listen to you speaking.

Think about whether it make sense to illustrate specific points on your slides, and if the answer is yes, think about how to go about it. Will an image be enough, or a few key words be enough to get your point across?

Nailing your delivery

So you’ve got the key messages, your slides are on point, now it’s important to make sure you don’t fall at the final hurdle with a poor delivery.

You need to make a strong connection to your audience: maintain eye contact (even on a Zoom presentation) – if you’re talking to a small group look at each person in the room for a complete sentence rather than trying to look at everybody all at once, or constantly moving your focus.

If it’s a big bigger room the same principle applies but instead of looking at each person in the room you can look at each area of the room.

Think about your body language: how are you standing, what are you doing with your hands? Do you feel relaxed or are you visibly feeling awkward?

The secret is to find the right balance for you. At some points you may be in a rest position, but you can move to emphasise important points of your message.

we’ve talked about best practice but can you tell us some of the do not do or do not make this mistake can you take us through some of the things that people do that they’re maybe not aware of that does not work from a presentation point of view

Practise makes perfect

One more mistake that I often see people make is a lack of preparation. Practise your presentation! You need to know your presentation inside out and be able to absorb any problems that might crop up whilst you’re talking.

When Bill Clinton became President, he had his inauguration speech prepared but still rehearsed it over and over again, despite being told that he had an autocue so didn’t need to. He was insistent and kept practising. Which was lucky, because on the day, the autocue stopped working and the practice meant he could deliver his entire speech from memory, saving him from disaster!

If you’d like to hear more about improving your presentation skills, take a listen to Episode 86 of the podcast, where Andrea Pacini and I took a deep dive on the topic.