Cast your mind back to the last business presentation you sat through.

Did the speaker drone on and on telling you things that had little relevance or value to you?


Did they capture and maintain your attention, interest and curiosity throughout their presentation?

If your experience was more of the former description please don’t scorn them; it’s not their fault.

Presenting is hard.

It takes time, consciousness, and a great deal of creativity to connect emotionally as well as intellectually with any audience. It’s likely that the reason you perceived them as lackluster is simply because they have been playing ‘follow the leader’.

The world is changing at lightning speed and many professionals are still doing what we did decades ago before we knew any better.

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
―Eric Hoffer

The old rules

– Bid your audience good morning, thank them for coming to listen to you, tell them your name, position, how many offices you have, how long you’ve been around and how many widgets you make.

– Show them a 12-point agenda on your first slide and then read it.

– Start speaking the moment you leave your seat rather than standing still, pausing, breathing and smiling.

– Don’t be yourself; be the corporate spokesperson and sound like everyone else in your business; be as serious as you can and whatever you do don’t smile.

– Turn your back to your audience to use your slides as a script and read them.

– Saturate your slides with text and data.

– Take at least twice as long to say what you really need to.

– Have your logo on every slide.

– Use as many clip art images as you can.

– Animate your slides and make sounds that your audience haven’t experienced before.

– Tell them you’re going to bore them, then bore them and conclude by reminding them how much you’ve just bored them.

The new rules

Whether you work in finance or pharmaceuticals, are the CEO or caretaker you can be certain that your audience want something different and unusual from you:

Here are 16 ways to give them what they don’t normally get from a presenter that they will be eternally grateful for.

1. Tell them how you feel – don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Don’t just tell them how you feel, show them too. Be expressive.

2. Leave your ego at your desk. ‘The secret to happiness in public speaking is to let go of your ego and realize that the presentation isn’t about you speaking. It’s about the audience hearing something.’

3. Make it personal; cut out the ‘noise’. Make absolutely certain that everything you say is relevant to them and completely aligned to your message.

4. Look at them. The greatest key to connecting emotionally with your audience is by making eye contact with them.

5. PAUSE – “The right word may be effective,” Mark Twain once said, “but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

6. Make your entire presentation content rich. Make sure that everything you say is of value to them.

7. Speak with passion, energy and purpose.

8. Be in the room. In other words, never enter a room to begin speaking when you haven’t take a few minutes before hand to breathe, calm down and check in with yourself.

9. SMILE – ‘People are treated differently when they smile.’

10. Lighten up. Use humour where appropriate. Being professional doesn’t mean you have to be deadly serious and rigid as you speak.

11. MOVE – Move your hands, your legs, your eyes, your face. Movement represents energy and offers visual stimulation. Don’t listen to the presentation coach who tells you to stand still. ‘The most popular TED talks had an average of 7,360,000 views and speakers used an average of 465 hand gestures.’

12. Think in pictures – The old saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ has stood the test of time because it’s true. Use clear, relevant and compelling images to help your audience to see the point you are trying to make.

13. Tell them stories – Presented on their own facts and data are boring. Tell your audience short, relevant and powerful stories and they will be glad they came to listen to you. ‘A presentation without stories is a lecture.’

14. Speak well -There is nothing worse than listening to a speaker with a monotone voice. Mindful presenters don’t rely on hope to ensure that they connect with their audience vocally. They stretch, challenge and develop their vocal chords to ensure they speak well and with impact. Julian Treasure’s TED talk offers some great tips for how to strengthen your voice.

15. Think like a ‘tweet’ – At the heart of every great presentation is a clear, strong and powerful message. If you can’t articulate your message to yourself with the clarity of a tweet its likely you don’t understand it yourself.

16. Don’t be like a comedian. Get to the point quickly, don’t save the punchline for the end. That may work for comedian’s but business is different. Brevity is key.