So you’ve been chosen to offer a presentation at your next major Sales Meeting. Or you volunteered. Or your boss “volunteered” you. No matter how you got here … you’re here, and you want to put your best foot forward.
Whether you’re a newbie or an old pro, what follows is a “Presenter Checklist” that will enable you to “be prepared” and put your best foot forward.
Pre-Sales Meeting Prep
- How many will be in your audience? This is critical to know if you have handouts or interactivity planned.
- What is the room setup? A single conference table? Theatre style (rows)? Classroom style (tables)? Is there a lectern? Plan your rehearsals accordingly.
- What kind of microphone, if any, will be provided? (handheld, headset, lavalier, lectern mic)
- What is your start and end time? Given your topic, how much time should you allow for Q&A? Will there be a timekeeper?
- Will the audience have name tags or table tents with their names on them? Being able to acknowledge people by name is especially important if you’re planning for interactivity or conducting any kind of training.
- Will the room be available for you to rehearse?
- What is the audience attire? If you’re a guest speaker, consider wearing full business attire, as both a sign of respect for the audience and to help you feel on top of your game. If you’re speaking at your organization, wear what you’d normally wear in that environment. It’s always best to dress one step better (or level with) than your audience.
- Who precedes and follows you on the agenda, and what are their topics? What themes or key points of theirs could you acknowledge in your talk to enhance overall program continuity and further support your message?
- Will you be introduced? Unless it’s an informal presentation, offer to write your own introduction for the meeting host to read.
- Is there an event theme that your talk must reflect? If you’re presenting at a conference, are you expected to use a theme/branded template for your slides? Does the host need to approve slides in advance of the event? Make sure to send your contact person(s) the final copy of your slides as backup.
- Do you plan to make (paper or electronic) copies of your slides available to the audience after your talk? If so, consider whether you could create a smaller, edited version for this purpose.
- Will your talk be videotaped? How will the video be used? Is there anything proprietary in your talk that would make videotaping problematic?
- Will you need a flipchart? If your talk is at a hotel, consider bringing your own flipchart to avoid the astronomical fees hotels charge (to you or the host) for providing one. Bring your own colored pens too!
- Do you have backup batteries for your remote control clicker? Have you packed the connecting cables for your laptop, LCD projector, or other devices?
Rehearsal (Yes, you MUST rehearse)
- Unless you’ll be giving a seated presentation (extremely rare), always rehearse standing up.
- Rehearse using your visuals. Become a master at making smooth transitions between each topic/slide. Set clear intentions for how you want to be perceived by your audience and identify the presentation skills that will support that.
- Don’t rehearse in front of the mirror: focus on your message, not on your appearance.
- Audio-record your talk and listen to it often.
- If possible, rehearse in the actual space of your presentation.
- If possible, rehearse with a professional presentation coach. They will see things you cannot.
- If rehearsing in front of your team, ask a few of them to focus on your content, others on your delivery, and one person to time it.
- Prepare a list of challenging questions you could be asked, and rehearse your responses to them.
At the Event
- Arrive early for peace of mind. Connect your laptop to the projection system you’ll be using, and run through your slides. Once this is done you’ll feel significantly more prepared and relaxed. This is especially important if your presentation includes sound.
- Create a clean screen on your laptop, removing any visual clutter.
- Silence all of your wireless devices.
- If you have hand-outs, make sure the right person(s) has them and can distribute them … or do it yourself.
- “Own the room.” Mentally and physically claim it as your space, to increase your confidence.
- Mingle with audience members as they arrive. Find your allies. Seek out those you interviewed during your content planning process.
- Stay hydrated to avoid “dry mouth.” Avoid cold water; it can constrict the vocal chords.
- During the Q&A portion of your talk, when an attendee asks a question, repeat it in full for the entire room. This ensures that everyone has heard the question and (most important) gives you time to compose your response.
- Privately ask for feedback from the host or members of the audience.
- Create a list of things you did well in your presentation and wish to repeat, and a list of snafus or snags you wish to improve.
- If you had any difficulty answering a question, research the answer, and then follow-up with the “asker” if you can. Also, if able, share the response with the entire group via email or other internal source.
- Write “thanks you’s” to the event organizer as well as any audience members whose input in your planning process enabled you to customize the presentation.