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Communication Skills Part 3 Presentation Skills

Why Business Presentations?

Business presentations are an integral part of managerial functions in every organization. These presentations are given when a message is to be communicated to a select group of people. These presentations are so common that every business executive gives presentations, depending on his job profile, on one or more occasions. One can give a number of examples of reasons when presentations are given. A departmental head may give presentation to his staff members to tell them about the short and long term plans; a sales executive may give presentation to his customers to tell them about his product; a project team leader may give presentation to her superior after completing the project; the finance head of a company may give presentation to the top management to describe the next years budget; the CEO of a company may give presentation to his top management team describing his new strategy; so on and so forth. There are number of occasions when business executives are required to give presentations to their superiors or subordinates or team members or customers or lending institutions etc.

Importance of Business Presentations

Presentations are given to sell some idea to somebody or explain some concept to someone or sometimes only to pass on some information. Therefore, if the presentation is not done effectively, it may not achieve the desired purpose. Every business executive and budding manager should develop that expertise. Some people may be very knowledgeable, intelligent and competent but if they are not able to give effective presentation, they may not be able to impress their superior and that may become an important hurdle in their growth and progress. Sometimes we observe two extremes. Some people avoid giving presentation because they are not confident and they always take the back seat. There are others who are over-confident and once they start they dont want to stop. Neither of these two is the correct approach for a business executive. Therefore, it is important for every manager and would be manger to master the presentation skills.

Features of a Good Presentation

1. Contents and the Audience The contents of a presentation should match the audience. If the audience is very knowledgeable and experienced then the level of presentation should be very high. If it is for the people who do not know the subject then it should be prepared using very simple concepts. 2. Language and the Audience The language of the presentation is also like the contents. One can use technical terms, jargon, acronyms etc if the audience is familiar with the subject. If the audience is new to the subject and knows nothing then the presenter should use very simple language. 3. Precise and Concise Most of the times the audience sitting for the presentation would have very limited time. Therefore, the presenter cannot make very long presentation. This will not only bore the audience but they will also not appreciate the skills of the presenter. If they lose interest, the presentation may not achieve the purpose. The presenter should learn how to say a lot of things in few words. Concise and precise do not mean that one should compromise on the content. This will make the presentation incomplete.

4. Logical Sequence The entire presentation should have a very logical flow. The points which one presents should have some logical relationship and while giving presentation if this relationship is lost then the meaning of the presentation may also be lost and the audience will be confused. The presenter should know the correct sequence of the points which she is presenting. 5. Advance Preparation Before giving the presentation the presenter should study the audience, their background, the time available, the place of presentation etc.. Based on this information she should prepare the presentation. If a proper planning is not done and if the presentation is not prepared well in advance then the failure is guaranteed. 6. Lively Presentation A presentation has to be lively to maintain the interest level of the audience. It can be made lively by using some interesting quotes or a piece of information. It can also be made lively by using proper body posture and gestures. If the presenter stands still with no body movements while giving presentation, the audience would never enjoy the presentation. Her smiling face, talkative facial expressions, eye contact, her dressing and grooming are the other aspects of lively presentation. 7. Humour Humour can also be used to make presentations interesting. This can be done by telling some relevant jokes or anecdotes. Some people are comfortable using some wit and funny language to bring humour in their presentation. However, one should be careful about not hurting anybody in the audience while trying to bring humour in the presentation. Humour is certainly not essential but if one can bring it very naturally then it is recommended. 8. Question Answer Session Almost every presentation is followed by question-answer session. The audience will always have some doubts or they may want some more information for which they would like to ask questions at the end of the presentation. The presenter should handle this session very carefully and see that the audience is satisfied with her answers. The only way to succeed in question-answer session is to prepare thoroughly, read a lot and be clear in your subject/concepts.

How to Plan a Presentation

As is discussed earlier some advance planning and preparation is very essential to make your presentation effective. While preparing a presentation one should collect a lot of information in advance and based on that should prepare the presentation. Some of the important points are as follows: 1. Audience Who is your audience is a very important question for which one should try to find the answer before preparing the presentation. This implies the educational background of the audience, their knowledge level, their familiarity with the subject, their age, gender, castes, likes, dislikes, level in the organization, preferences, etc. Even their hierarchical relationship with the presenter is important. 2. Purpose Why are you making the presentation is the second question one should try to answer while preparing the presentation. It can be only for passing on some information. It can be for convincing the potential customers to buy the new product. It can be for convincing the lower management why the new

strategy should be implemented. It can be for reporting to the boss after the successful completion of the project. It can be for getting some financial approvals from the senior management. If the objective of the presentation is clear, it can be designed according to that purpose and then only it will be successful. 3. Place or Location Where the presentation will be made is the next question. Knowing the place in advance is very important to avoid the last moment surprises. The knowledge of the place is important to know the capacity of the hall/room, to know about the A/V facilities which are available, the availability of internet, the surrounding atmosphere, air-conditioning, seating arrangement etc. If the place is new to you, it is better to collect all this information. 4. Time When you will be making the presentation is the next question. The time is important. If your presentation is at the end of the day after many presentations have already been made, it is better to be very brief and interesting. If it is just before the lunch break, you should ensure that you are not eating into the lunch duration of the audience. If it is immediately after a sumptuous lunch, it would be a big challenge to keep the audience awake. The other aspect of time is the duration of your presentation. You should always complete the presentation in the time allotted to you. 5. Content After you get answers to the first four questions then the next question is, what should be the co ntents of your presentation. This will completely depend on the answers to the first four questions. The contents of the presentation should be decided on the basis of the knowledge of the audience, your purpose, location, and time of the presentation. 6. Team Presentation Business presentations can be made individually or by a team. If it is team presentation then some additional precautions should be taken. There should be a proper coordination among team members about who will do what. There has to be complete understanding among the team members. They also need to follow some manners and etiquettes of a team presentation. 7. Practice Presentations can never be effective and successful if you dont practice in advance. Practicing will give you ideas about the time management and possible questions you may face. Practicing before your guide or friends can also help you know your body language, your confidence level, some of the points where you are not very clear etc.

How to Organize the Presentation

Organizing the presentation is to decide A. How will you give the introduction or how will you begin? B. What should be in the main body of your presentation? C. How you should conclude your presentation?

How to Deliver a Presentation

A presentation can be delivered in three ways: 1. Reading Loudly

Under this method the entire presentation is written in advance and this pre-written text is read in front of the audience. 2. Speaking from the Memory Under this method the presenter prepares for the presentation in advance and memorizes the entire presentation. While giving presentation he speaks from his memory. 3. Speaking from Notes Under this method the presenter notes down the main points of his presentation either on a piece of paper or prepares power point slides. After that he practices and prepares well for every point and explains those points while giving the presentation. The other aspects of delivery are: 1. Voice, Posture and Gestures: The voice of the presenter should be audible or else he should use the audio equipments. He should effectively use paralinguistic symbols while talking. His posture and gestures should be confident and should maintain the interest of the audience. He should be very lively while giving presentation. 2. Eye Contact The presenter should never lose the eye contact with the audience. She should look at all the people sitting in the audience. She should not look at the ceiling or the floor or somewhere in the zero. 3. Dressing The dressing of the presenter should be very formal and sober. The kind of clothes she wears, their colours, the accessories used and the make-up; everything is very important. The person should take care that the audience pay attention to the presentation and not to the dress or accessories. 4. Visual Aids The presenter should know how to make an effective use of visual aids. These days people mostly use power point slides to give presentation. They should know about organizing the matter on each slide, the colour combination, the volume of the text used on each slide, the animation effect etc. ========