The right way to give presentations?

April 15, 2011

 Are you a lefty or a righty when it comes to giving a presentation?  Which side scores the most ticks for you?

How most people make a presentation How people make the most of a presentation
Worry about being nervous   Acknowledge the nerves and put them to one side  
Introduce yourself with your name and talk title   Grab attention – do something unexpected but in line with your talk  
Use colourful templates to add interest   Have a consistent design layout  
Use bullet points on their slide   Use visual aids which are visual and aid understanding  
Use small a font to include all the detail   Use big fonts to make big statements  
Ramble – or structure it so people know exactly what you are going to say next   Structure your presentation so audience can see where you have come from but not where you are going, maintain some suspense  
Talk about themselves and their achievements   Talk about their audience’s wants and needs  
Use clip art and unrelated images   Use pictures that create strong mental images  
Read the slides   Lead the presentation, with slides as an aid  
Use a monotone voice   Be emotional, give a performance  
Talk at their audience   Talk with their audience  
Forget to summarize   Summarize the 3 key points  
Give copies of slides as handouts before   Give detailed handouts after  
Stop talking when you have run out of things to say   Finish with a call to action before your audience stop listening  

If you scored more lefts than rights the right thing to do is to come on a presentation skills course.

If you scored more rights, well done, keep up the good work and keep spreading good presentation practise.


Who needs presentation training?

October 8, 2009

Why would anyone want or need to go on a course about how to stand and talk. After all, we can all stand up and talk already, can’t we?

We don’t need training on how to talk. And as for what to say, how can a trainer who has little or no experience of your company and your job know what to say better than you do?

Anyway, training courses are an expensive luxury, which we can’t afford in the current economic climate. Anyone who needs to learn how to give a business presentation can just watch how other people in the company do it.

We don’t need presentation training!


But there again if you just keep doing what you have always done, nothing will change, your success rate will at best remain the same and in these difficult times when competition for business is ever harder you are more likely to lose ground to your competitors.


Let’s approach this from a different angle. How many presentations have you sat through?  

Probably hundreds ?


How many of them do you remember?

Probably less then 10% ?

 And that includes all the ones that were memorable for all the wrong reasons. The ones that went wrong. The really boring ones. The ones where the presenter made a fool of him or her self.


How many really good, inspiring presentations do you remember?

Less than a handful?

That is not a very good percentage success rate, is it?


How effective are the presentations in your company?

Do you want your next presentation to be instantly forgotten, or remembered for all the wrong reasons?



Then maybe you could benefit by going on a presentation skills training course. And so could many of your colleagues. Brush up your skills, eradicate the bad habits and make your talks more effective.


What are you likely to learn on a Young Markets presentation skills course?

We start by understanding what you would like to improve, which particular aspects of your presentations you would like to be different in the future and what types and styles of presentation you are likely to give.

Then we discuss the 5 most important aspects of giving a presentation, for which we have an acronym OSRAM, which stands for Objective, Speaker, Room, Audience, Message.

Most of the morning is then spent investigating the traits of a good speaker, including:

  • How to overcome any nervous anxiety and use it to your advantage
  • How to remember the key elements and structure of your presentation
  • Why it ain’t what you say that is important, but how you say it.

In the afternoon, we turn our attention to your message, including:

  • The structure for the ideal presentation
  • How to influence everyone in the room and motivate them into taking action
  • How to make your presentation memorable, for all the right reasons

You will discover how to handle questions and awkward audience members, as well as what your visual aids should and shouldn’t contain and a myriad of other hints and tips.

We’ll highlight a few bad habits people can pick up that are presentation killers. Things like relying on your slides to remind you of what to talk about, having too many bullet points and filtering out the emotion in an effort to hide the nerves.

During the day, everyone delivers two short presentations and is given a video of their performance.

By the end of our 1 day course you will be more confident and much better prepared to deliver influential presentations that will be remembered and acted upon by your future audiences.

After all there is more to giving an effective business presentation that just standing up and talking. See details of our upcoming courses here.

How to Choose a Presentation Training Course

August 19, 2009

There are hundreds of different presentation training courses available, all of which promise to banish your nervousness and make you an accomplished public speaker. How do you choose the right course for you?

Googling “Presentation Training” will at first sight generate a very long list of different vendors who offer the same “Presentation Training”. But as you look closer you will find some trainers approach the topic from a theatrical perspective,  some from a business background, and a few from an educational viewpoint. While most courses cover the core elements of public speaking, they are all biased towards their own area of speciality. Some trainers put more emphasis on the dramatic aspects, some on the techniques of presenting and some on the desired outcomes. In general:

  • Theatrical Presentations, run by actors, focus on Breathing, Vocal Exercises, Posture
  • Educational Presentations, run by trainers, focus on How to be a trainer, Learning Styles, slide design
  • Business Presentations, run by business people focus on Influencing people, motivation, instigating change

Firstly, consider the type of presentation you are likely to be giving. Is it for a best man’s speech, is it for business or is it about the technology of presentations.  If it is for business or sales presentations you need to choose a business presentation training course. There are many aspects of giving a business presentation that may not be covered by a one-size-fits-all public speaking course. I recommend googling “Business Presentation Training” rather than “presentation training”.

While I’m on the subject of searching for providers using Google, I also suggest you include the nearest town or city in the search. This narrows down the proliferation of training companies to ones that run courses in your area, and may save a long commute to the course.

Does the course give you the opportunity to give at least two presentations? You need to practise and get feedback on your presentations, if it is all talk from the lecturer you won’t learn nearly as much. However, beware of courses that are almost all practical. You need to have some tutorial time to ensure that you are practising the right skills.

How many people are allowed on the course, I recommend a maximum of 6. Any more and you will spend too long listening to other people giving presentations. The larger the class the less opportunity there is for the lecturer to take on board individual concerns you might have or to focus on the particular type of presentation you are most likely to be giving.

How long is the course? Most courses are either one or two days. If time and cost are not an issue then a 2 day course usually provides more time for practising but can you afford to take 2 days away from your desk?  A competent trainer should be able to cover all the main points about how to structure and give a presentation, plus allow enough time for practicals on a one day course.

Do they use video feedback? It is really useful to see and hear yourself giving a presentation. It is only with video feedback that you can appreciate what you really look and sound like. Don’t shy away from courses that use video, they are usually well worth it.

How are the practical presentations reviewed? Is it just the lecturer’s comments or are the other participants encouraged to comment on your presentation. Everyone is different and different people will pick up on different things so a wider review panel is usually better. Actively reviewing other people’s presentations is also a good learning exercise.

In a business presentation, you are invariably trying to influence your audience in some way. Either trying to get them to buy a product or a service or to think about something in a particular way. This adds an extra dimension to the public speaking skills you need to learn. A good business presentation skills course will address the subject of how to influence people and how to get them to think the way you want them to do.

The price of presentation skills training courses vary tremendously but in my experience price is not always representative of value. Just because a course is comparatively cheap it does not mean it may be of lower quality then a far more expensive course. But do consider the average number of participants and the length of the course. Often cheaper courses have higher delegate numbers and are therefore less personal and less able to meet your specific needs.

Then there is the level of training. Some companies offer beginners courses, typically 1 day, intermediates courses, typically 2 days and advanced courses typically 1 day. This structure of training according to different levels of experience seems valid on first sight, but I believe it is more about increasing the potential revenues for the training companies. Over the years, I have run presentation courses for hundreds of people, some of whom have been completed novices, some who were particularly nervous, and some who have been very experienced. I have used the same course structure for everyone and 99% of the people have rated the course as good or excellent. I believe the focus should be on the results, i.e. what people should be doing in their presentations after the course, rather than focusing on how much they knew beforehand. There are certain things everyone should do when they are giving a presentation and it doesn’t matter whether it is their first presentation or their five hundredth presentation, they should still be doing the same things. That is what a good course will teach them.

The only exception to this is for the experienced presenter who needs to tune his or her technique and correct any bad habits they may have fallen into. The problem here is that by going on a course with other experienced presenters who have different problems to address it becomes difficult to a lecturer to address everyone’s individual needs without boring the rest of the class. In these cases I recommend a one on one coaching session rather than a standard course. This enables the coach to focus on the improvements that the individual wants/needs to make.

Training companies themselves vary in size and structure. Some are huge organisations, with lots of employees that train in a wide variety of different subjects. The lecturers in these companies tend to be career trainers. Then there are the other apparently large training concerns which actually subcontract all the work out to smaller companies. Then there are the specialists and one man bands. Almost every training company offers some form of public speaking training, on the basis that their trainers are always standing up talking to people, so they should be able to teach other people how to do it. I would suggest that in the case of giving a business presentation this is not always true.

No matter how good the agenda would appear to be, the success of any training course depends on the lecturer. Who will be running the course you are attending? If the training company can’t or won’t commit to who will be running a particular course, be very wary. Does the company provide feedback and client testimonials for individual lecturers? Don’t rely on general company wide testimonials, they may not relate to the individual who will be running your course. Ask for specific testimonials for your specific lecturer. Ask if you could talk to someone, in a similar position as yourself,  who has been on the same course with that lecturer in the past. Good training companies should be able to arrange this without any problem.

Look for trainers who have been there and done it, not just the ones who talk about it. If you are looking for a business presentation training course look for one run by a business person, who has given lots of business presentations not an out of work actor, who knows about appearing on stage but little or nothing about business.

Finally, check what you will get in terms of course materials. If is just a copy of the lecturer’s sides than this is fairly useless as a source of additional learning. Look for courses which provide a source of ongoing reference material, check lists and the support to ensure your  future success.

I wish you every success in your choice of presentation trainer and your future presentations.

Sales Presentation Training

July 29, 2009

What is the difference between giving a business presentation and giving a sales presentation?

Does a sales presentation training course need to be different from a business presentation training course?

The answer is in the objective. There are many reasons why you might want to give a presentation at work, including progress reports, sales meetings, changing work habits, telling people about new products or procedures, letting people know how you can be of assistance, encouraging people to think about new opportunities, solving problems or improving moral and motivating people.

In essence it all boils down to three things: educating, influencing and entertaining.

Now if a presentation’s sole purpose is to entertain I would question it’s value in a business context. Although every presentation has to entertain your audience to some extent to ensure that they are listening, if that is the only objective then I don’t see how it helps the business to progress. This is where a business presentation differs from a best man’s speech.

Sales presentations are obviously about influencing people. Influencing them to buy your product, service or solution. As part of the act of influencing you will need to educate them, tell them about your products and the benefits that it will provide them, and you will also need to entertain them so that they enjoy being educated and influenced.

But what about the purely informative presentation, which sets out to educate people, providing new information or a new slant on existing knowledge that your audience may already have. Yes it needs to entertain but does it need to influence?  This is the crux of the difference between a sales presentation and a business presentation.

Let us investigate the objective further. If the objective of a presentation is just to inform people,to educate them. Why are you doing it? Why do you want/need to educate these people? What is it that they will do differently once they have the knowledge that you are imparting?  Do you care what they do with it?

If you don’t care what they do with the knowledge then from your point of view it doesn’t matter if they actually have the knowledge. It will make no difference to you or your business. So why bother investing all the time and resources in to creating and delivering the presentation. I would venture to suggest that if it is irrelevant what people do with the knowledge you impart through your presentation your presentation itself becomes irrelevant and there is no point in giving it.

On the other hand if you do care what people do with the knowledge then you need to not just educate but also influence people to do something with that knowledge. This then becomes a similar objective as for a sales presentation. To educate people and to influence them.

So what should be the difference between a business presentation training course and a sales presentation training course?


Choosing presentation training that teaches you how to stand up and talk in front of an audience is fine, if you want to give a best man’s speech, but in business there is so much more to giving a presentation than just standing up and talking in an entertaining fashion. In business you need to influence people, no matter what type of presentation you are giving. To learn how to influence people with your presentations, the type of course to attend is sales presentation training, even if you are not in sales and even if you don’t have a particular product,service or solution to sell.

That is why on Young Markets courses we only teach one presentation structure, the structure of a sales presentation and why we spend time looking at different influencing styles. A major aspect of any business presentation must be concerned with considering what you want your audience to do as a result of the presentation and structuring the presentation to encourage your audience to take that action.

In short, the best presentation training to attend for business presentations is a sales presentation training course.

Presentations on YouTube

July 22, 2009

I have recently loaded two presentations on to youtube. The first is “How to Structure a Presentation” and can be watched by clicking on presentation structure.

Of course, once you have developed your presentation you have to deliver it, so the second video is entitled “Presentation Delivery

Both are quite short just 1 min 28 secs and 2 min 48 secs respectively. They were developed in PowerPoint and converted to video format, so there is no sound, just look at the pictures and read the words.

They conform to the Pecha Kucha format of presentations with up to 20 slides and less than 20 seconds per slide. Straight and to the point some might say.

Hopefully you will enjoy them and find them useful, please let me know what you think. Some of the points may be a little cryptic so just shout if you need an explanation or rational as to why I am suggesting certain things.

Wishing you every success with your next presentation.



Daily Presentations Hints & Tips on Twitter

June 30, 2009

I have just embarked on a new project, providing daily presentation hints and tips on Twitter.

Every day there will be a new presentation tip published.

If you would like to see them you need to follow youngmarkets on Twitter.

I hope you like them and if you have any of your own you would like to add, feel free to add them as a comment here and I will load them into twitter.

Be Yourself, Be Nervous, Be Passionate

June 22, 2009

Many articles about giving a presentation start off saying how people are nervous or even frightened of speaking in public. Then they go on to provide guidance on how to get over the nerves and give a good presentation. All the good advice of preparation and practise, taking deep breaths, sucking a mint, not drinking the water, remember the audience are just people, that they are on your side,  that nothing nasty will happen etc., is all very well intentioned but it doesn’t always help.

The fact is that for many people, controlling their nerves puts them into to “I’m a serious business person” mode or “I can stand in front of the audience and not look nervous” mode.  With one of these hats on, they feel they are able to give a good presentation, speak clearly and get all the facts across.

The problem is that in removing their nerves, they also remove all the passion and emotion from their voice. They become slightly robotic and dull in their delivery. Even people for whom presenting is part of their daily job, and who you might expect to be good presenters because they are doing it all the time (e.g.  lecturers, trainers and salespeople) can fall foul of this. I’m sure you all remember a teacher or lecturer, who droned on and on.

What is the point in giving a presentation when you could just type it out and let people read your script?  After all, your audience can read it far quicker than you can say it, and then you could all go home and get on with your lives.

For a presentation to be effective there needs to be something else, other than a well written script, there needs to be some emotion. The speaker needs to communicate their feelings and their passion to their audience.

Think of all the really good presenters that you have listened to. I would suggest that what made them good speakers was that they caught and held your interest; they believed in what they were talking about; their passion and enthusiasm came through.

So the next time you stand up to speak, don’t worry about being nervous. Let your emotions show.  Your audience will love you all the more for it and they may even keep listening to the end of your presentation.

To learn more about presenting visit my presentation training site or come on a course.

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