Expert Panel

Focus on these things to succeed in Workplace Communication Skills

Eleven Really Useful Techniques for Successful Presentations


How do you define a GREAT presentation?  Is it the comfort level you feel when presenting, OR the positive response you get from your audience? What if I told you that it should be both…by that definition, are you a great presenter?


Let’s delve into the elements of a successful presentation and discuss eleven really useful techniques you can implement right away.


1)   Define the reason you are presenting; what is the RESULT you want to achieve?  Are you training others, looking for investors, trying to sell a product or service, trying to get your budget or plan approved?…The list can go on an on.  It is important to be very specific about what you want before you prepare your presentation.  Your result must resonate throughout your presentation so that by the time you get to the end, the message is clear. 

  • So take the time in the beginning of the process to write out the result you want to achieve, and be specific.


2)   Build your presentation points yourself; the story needs to be yours.  If you are given a pre-made presentation to present, modify it to your voice.

  • Make sure you brush up on your PowerPoint skills so you have the ability to do this.  It may be as simple as adding in transition slides, but you need to make it yours.


3)   Make sure your presentation tells a story with a beginning, a middle and end. 

  • The beginning should resonate with the place your audience is currently at mentally (Obviously you must know your audience!).  If, for example, your area of the business has not been doing well…start there.  That is what they know, don’t hide it, get their attention by proving you understand them and their concerns.
  • The middle of the presentation should be a philosophical journey taking them from point A (the beginning of the presentation), through to point F, to point N, to point T.
  • The end of the presentation should be obvious by the time you get there.  You will have taken your audience on a journey; their mindset should have transformed to where you want them to be.  The end of your presentation should be your final points making sure there is a take away that everyone can clearly and collectively define.  An actionable summary that includes follow-up dialog, approvals, timeframes, etc.…


4)   Practice in front of a mirror, every page, over and over.  Nobody gives a presentation with 3x5 cards, or at least they shouldn’t.  Those days are over.  You need to be able to give your presentation at least 10 different ways.  By practicing in front of a mirror, you will force yourself to have eye contact, be aware of your appearance and be comfortable with the information you are presenting.  The more you practice, the better able you will be to adlib the material, answer questions and modify your approach based on the response of your audience.

  • Practice your presentation from start to finish and time yourself as if you were giving it to your audience.  Don’t start over mid way through…you can’t do that when it is real, so why practice that way.
  • Keep to your allotted time and modify your presentation accordingly.


5)   Memorize the first two or three sentences of your presentation, and the last two or three sentences as well.  DO NOT memorize anything in-between. You need to be able to adlib the majority of the presentation, but don’t leave yourself in an uncomfortable position in the begging or end.  You must force yourself off to a good start and finish on a high note, no matter what happened in-between.

  • Make your words meaningful, use some humor if you like but make sure it is actually funny.  I recommend some powerful statements that ask a question like…why are we here?


6)   Hear the sound of your voice before you present.  We all get nervous, no matter whom we are.  One way to overcome this fear is to hear the sound of your own voice in the room you are going to present in.  Make a point to strike a conversation with people in the room prior to the presentation, introduce yourself, shake hands, and keep the dialog light; off topic.

  • The sound of your voice will relax you and eliminate the anxiety that builds before you “officially” speak.
  • Use queues throughout your presentation for areas you need some help remembering...this will help calm your nerves.  You can do this by adding transition slides to slow you down and help move to the next topic.  Or adding popup bubbles on a graph or financial statement that define changes in the data, so you don’t have to remember everything when you are getting bombarded with questions.
  • When your audience starts questioning your work, these queues will show them you are prepared and have already done your homework.


8)   Use either water or dissolving breath strips to combat dry mouth during your presentation.

  • We have all been there…embarrassing…come prepared; it works.


9)   Smile, focus on eye contact; watch your audience and respond to the way they are responding to you.  Involve them in the dialog and encourage questions.

  • If you know your material, you can modify it to the response you are seeing.  You are a teacher…are your students learning what you want them to learn?  You should be able to tell by their facial and body expressions.
  • If they look confused, state your comments differently and ask them questions.


10)  Don’t worry about being nervous in the beginning.  If you stick with these steps, by the end you will be relaxed, and your audience will have forgotten the first few moments.  Judge your success at the end of your presentation, not the beginning, and not the middle.

  • Trust me on this.  Everyone wants you to succeed, or you have wasted his or her time.  So make sure you win the marathon, not the sprint.


11)  Thank your audience for listing to you.

  • Leave them with some final thoughts and include any follow-up that was discussed with back and forth dialog during the presentation. 
  • Finally, ask and answer any questions.


Giving a successful presentation is a skill that takes practice.  Being a seasoned presenter does not mean it comes naturally, it means you have honed in on these techniques to use them effectively.  You can get to know your audience by becoming well rounded in all areas of business.  It will enable you to speak with authority and show that you have respect for differences of opinion and the needs of your organization.




Written by Lisa WoodsPresident ManagingAmericans.com

Lisa is a successful entrepreneur, world-class marketing strategist, and dynamic business leader with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth. Throughout her career, Lisa has been influential in integration techniques, organizational and cultural overhauls, financial turnarounds and developing employees into exceptional leaders, results driven managers and passionate team contributors.


Do you have a question for Lisa?  Post it in our Executive Leadership Community, she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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Do you emphasize your own opinions when you give presentations at work?