I was 21 years old when I landed my very first paid presentation opportunity. I was asked to speak in front of a small audience of middle school and high school students about the importance of understanding who they are. I was so excited for the opportunity and spent weeks preparing. The day came for the event and I could not wait to get on stage. However, what I didn’t know, was how little I knew about the professionalism and etiquette that was expected when you are asked to present.
That day I learned three tips that we can all embrace when it comes to every presentation we are delivering whether it’s paid or not. These may seem simple, but when put into practice will elevate you as a presenter and place you in a category that gets you invited back to time and time again.
Show up early.
There is nothing worse than a room full of busy people wasting their time waiting for a presentation to start. As a presenter it is your job to do everything you can to ensure this doesn’t happen, because whether or not it is your fault the animosity from the delay will be directed at you. An easy way to combat this is to always show up earlier than whatever time you are given.
The rule of thumb for me is that I arrive 5 minutes prior to my actual call time when presenting at an event that I am not leading. If I am leading the meeting or event I show up at least 30-45 minutes early to ensure the technology is working and there are no unforeseen issues to solve. Showing up early communicates value to not only the audience but also the people who have invited you to come. It shows them that you care enough to make them the priority, because the old adage is still true “If you are early you are on time, if you are on time you are late, if you are late it’s unacceptable.”
In a recent study performed at Northwestern University they discovered a direct connection between psychology and clothing. They introduced a new term called Enclothed Cognition and proved that clothing systematically influences wearers’ psychological processes. That means you quite literally are what you wear. As a presenter we need all the help we can get when it comes to confidence and self-image. With more than 50% of our communication coming from our body language it is vital that we are communicating a clear message and our clothing can help with that.
Be sure to dress comfortably, you don’t want to be so uncomfortable that it shows when presenting, however you also want to make sure you dress for your audience. If you are about to make a sales pitch to C level executives then it is probably best to wear a suite or dress, however if you are about to present to a room full of millennials something more business casual would be welcomed. Your clothing matters, it communicates a message both externally and internally so be sure to make the most of it.
Finish in your allotted time.
I have worked for the past few years with a presenter who no matter how hard they try always goes longer than allotted. Recently they said to me “I just don’t think I want to cut my presentation down.” I would guess all of us at some point have felt the same as this young leader. We spend time and energy developing great content and we don’t want to short change any of it. However, by speaking long and not finishing in our allotted time we end up doing the exact thing we desperately wanted to avoid.
By going over on our time, we communicate that the audiences time is not valued, the person who invited us requests are not valued, and that we are unable to communicate clearly. This can quickly result in lack of credibility to what we have to say. The Ethos3 team recently wrote about the importance of “shutting up” so that people will listen to you. They referenced the importance of clarity in your content, nailing your transitions, and keeping the flow. Implementing these tips will help you as a presenter hit the time you are allotted and not sacrifice any of your great content.
Presentations are a vital piece of all of our lives, whether we deliver them regularly or sit through them often they affect all aspects of our life. As a presenter these three tips will help you to elevate your next presentation and take you to the next level. We at presentation mentor want to help, be sure to check out our brand new online course to improve your overall presentation skills today at PresentationMentor.com