14 Jun 2015

6 Tips - How To Deliver A Presentation

In my current role I regularly speak at conferences and carry out training or strategy workshops with teams of adults across the UK. At one point in the randomness that is my career I trained to be a primary school teacher and stood up in front of a classroom full of fidgety, mischievous, easily bored 8 year olds. When I was a trolley dolly I had to ‘present’ the safety demonstration to 195 equally fidgety and easily bored passengers. I’ve presented in plush five star hotels and in porta cabins at the side of Loch Lomond. Once at a conference in the Highlands the door burst open mid presentation and a black Labrador daundered in and joined me on stage. In other words I have enough experience of public speaking to qualify me to write this article.

What I have learned along the way cannot be described as rocket science. It’s pretty basic stuff which can turn death by PowerPoint into a winning pitch.

1) Find out who you are presenting to
This is blatantly obvious, crucial and frequently overlooked. If your presentation is pitched at an advanced level and your audience are beginners then they’ll quickly get lost and distracted. If you are pitching for work and know who the panel are then tailor your content appropriately, a quick search on LinkedIn or twitter and you’ll gain insight into their background and interests. In the past I've asked event organisers to send a short questionnaire to those participating in my workshops and I've based my content and tasks on the responses. Sure, it takes a lot of time and effort but 1) that's what you are being paid for and 2) your audience are potential clients and well worth the investment.

2) Paint pictures and avoid text

If you are accompanying your talk with a presentation then choose bright, bold images or video content which tell the story of what you are talking about rather than listing text descriptions on the screen. If your habit is to show slides with bullet points and read through them then it’s time to get more creative!

3) Involve the Audience
Always involve the audience. I recently presented to teenage girls and started the workshop by getting them all on their feet to learn a simple 20 second ‘confidence boosting’ dance I’d invented. It woke them up and the element of surprise meant I had their attention for the rest of the session. If you are presenting to a large audience get a few volunteers on the stage to take part in a quiz or demonstration and encourage the audience to choose a person to support. Anything with a competitive edge works a treat. If you are time limited then simply ask the audience to get involved by raising their hand or standing up. As the presenter don't hide behind a lectern, move about the stage or room.

4) Spanners In the Works
Technology is brilliant when it works but often at events, even in the swankiest high tech venues, the internet connection or Wi-Fi is rubbish and what you planned to do just won’t work. (Even when you’ve phoned up and checked in advance the reality can be very different.) Have a Plan B which includes carrying a memory stick or being able to download your presentation. Worst case scenario it's back to basics with a flip chart and pen. The show must always go on.

5) It's Okay Not To Know Everything
If someone asks a question and you don’t know the answer it’s okay to say ‘I don’t know…..but I’ll find out and let you know.’ You're only human, you can't know everything especially if you work in a field that changes on a daily basis.
 ‘Let’s have a chat at the end’ are magic words if one participant wants to dominate the session with questions that are only relevant to them. Manage this situation so it doesn't detract from what everyone else has come to learn about. Be polite but firm on this point as the organiser expects you to deliver what you promised to deliver without running over time and messing up their schedule. 

6) Connect
Okay, so you’ve delivered your presentation or workshop and you’ve answered all the questions from the audience. What next? There’s a few options depending on your style. Invite people to join you for a chat afterwards, or to connect with you on LinkedIn, twitter or by email. (final slide should have this info in large print). You can provide a physical handout to be collected from the front and leave a pile of business cards if you’re old school, or you can set people a task and ask them to tweet or tag you with their answer. The important thing is to keep in touch, spot opportunities to grow your business or simply make new connections who share a common interest.

Was this useful? Let me know. You’ll find me on LinkedIn and twitter.

Thanks for reading. Annie Boyd is a marketing and business consultant specialising in social media strategy. Her clients range from large public sector organisations to SME's. She enjoys working with individuals or teams who are open to new ideas and who like to look for solutions rather than look at problems! Get in touch if you'd like to have a chat about working together. annie@annieboyd.com 

9 Jun 2015

You dancing? I'm asking!

Picture the scene. The band are playing your favourite song, the venue is packed. Your toes are tapping, your fingers are drumming out the beat. The dance floor is empty apart from one woman, dancing 80’s style in sharp angular movements, waving her arms around and grinning ear from ear, singing along and lost in the joy of the moment.
She signals to her friends at the bar to ‘Come and dance, come on, come on!’ but they all decline, reluctant to be in the spotlight. Scanning the room her eyes meet yours and she approaches. ‘Come on, come on and dance!’ What do you do?
A handful of people reading this will get up and join her, free from self-consciousness or inhibition. A percentage will wait until the dance floor is packed before finding a small cramped space to shuffle their feet. Others prefer to stay in their seats, watching from a safe distance.
This scenario reminds me of how businesses use social media. Initially the dance floor was empty, people were too risk averse to get involved and now the social networks are so packed it’s elbow room only. Is your business, product or service standing out from the noisy crowd? Are your moves cool or stuck in the 80's? Are you in tune with your customers or one step behind?
Lately I’ve been carrying out reviews and taking strategy workshops with organisations and teams who, like 80’s Dancing Lady, are willing to put themselves out there. They are open to an outsider (me) casting an eye over their work because they want to be better than their competitors, they want to understand why Action A delivered results and Action B didn’t. They want to learn the latest moves and they want someone to be straight talking and teach them methods that will support their business goals of ultimately increasing participation or selling more products. 
Some clients are experienced traditional marketers, others are SME’s or small teams with no marketing support in-house.  I offer a fresh perspective on how they currently sell their product or service online and together we work through potential alternative approaches. It is a bespoke service for each client, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. I find this area of my work really rewarding because the people who employ my services are results driven and therefore open to new opportunities to develop their business. In other words, they want to learn which creates a positive environment to work in and we all enjoy the time together.
As a consultant my performance is evaluated constantly, I need to be at the top of my game and willing to put myself out there to be judged. Staying seated at the back of the room just isn't an option for me. I like people and I love the challenge of creating strategy and coming up with ideas and solving problems. I understand that others are less comfortable with someone reviewing their performance (unless you work in sport!) but my role isn't to critique, it's to support, to develop, to up-skill and to work with your team to create a strategic and deliverable plan. The review simply marks a starting point to identify where time and effort should be invested.
Could your marketing plan benefit from an outsiders perspective? If so get in touch because if you're dancing, I'm asking.
Thanks for reading. Annie Boyd is a marketing and business consultant specialising in social media strategy. Her clients range from large public sector organisations to SME’s and for the last few years her focus has been sports marketing. She enjoys working with individuals or teams who are open to new ideas and who like to look for solutions rather than look at problems! Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat about working together.