Top 5 Tips for Presenting to Audiences

Written by Steve Carey

When it comes to dealing with the media, Presentation is Key. It’s not just what you say that counts, it’s how you say it and who’s saying it.

Time and again organisations get this wrong. Either through poor planning, poor presentation skills or simply by having the message delivered by the wrong person.

Who hasn’t winced or yawned through a media briefing or speech which goes on forever while delivering very little? We all know the frustration at committing our time and attention to presentations that are uninspired, boring and virtually worthless because the presenter doesn’t have the presentation skills or in-depth knowledge of the material to make it interesting for the audience.

In contrast are the great performers… companies like Virgin, David Jones or Crown Casino. These organisations know how to do it well. Whether the key message relates to cheap flights, retail sales or a new venue, these companies make sure they’re using seasoned media performers who deliver the key messages while also putting on a show for the audience.

So what is it that makes the difference?  Mostly it’s common sense. Unfortunately common sense isn’t always that common.

Here are 5 tips for making life easier when it comes to presentations:

1. First Impressions Count

I’ve always tried to find people within organisations who have the confidence, knowledge and ability to deliver key information in a calm and conversational manner. Depending on the brief and the circumstances, this means that the presentation may be more appropriately delivered by the subject matter expert, rather than the Marketing Manager or CEO, who have the presentation skills but may not be particularly interested in the topic itself.

2. Know Your Stuff!

Sounds simple, but it’s amazing the number of people who come unstuck because they didn’t take the time to really get to know their topic. In business, as in life, you can’t ‘just wing it’.

3. Know Your Audience

There’s little point giving a highly technical speech or interview if you’re talking to people who have little or no understanding of the topic. I’ve always worked on the principle that presentations should try to speak to the broadest audiences possible. This means using broad brush strokes in the content and conversational language in the delivery to ensure that the key messages will be easily understood and widely disseminated.

4. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse

Before you plunge into any interview, get someone to help you role play out the interview in advance. It’s surprising how much you’ll learn about your presentation skills and delivery of the topic when you have someone else throwing unscripted questions at you. Start with the basics of journalism: Who, What, When, Why and How.

5. Breathe

Sounds simple enough doesn’t it, but this is one of the greatest challenges for interviewees and presenters. When you find yourself facing down an audience, a ‘media pack’ or cameras, take a few deep breaths and clear your mind for a minute or two before you start answering questions. Dropping your shoulders improves your posture and stance and relaxes the body. Deep breaths oxygenate the blood and also relax the body. Once underway be conversational, don’t’ allow yourself to race through your delivery. My trick is to always imagine I’m telling a story to a mate over a few drinks.

And on that note, good luck with your next presentation!