Presentation Tips for Consultants

Giving a good presentation isn't easy despite appearances. They require preparations beyond just pulling together a bunch of slides. Here are some ideas to help you succeed with your next presentation.

Reasons Presenters Fail

There are many things that can happen that will decrease the likelihood of success of a presentation. Many of these are easy to take care of with a little forethought and preparation. The following is a list common reasons presenters fail to achieve their desired results.

  • Perceived lack of preparation e.g. fumbling for notes, A/V equipment mishaps, missing information.
  • Inappropriate use of humor.
  • Language inconsistent with the client's culture.
  • Too much or too little detail.
  • Distracting body movements or hand gestures.
  • Too loud or too quiet.
  • Poor interaction with the audience.
  • Monotone voice, lack of inflection.
  • Cutting off client interaction in mid-sentence.
  • Losing control of the agenda, getting off on tangents.
  • Controversial findings and recommendations not pre-sold.
  • Conflicts or contradictions with other team members.
  • Lack of empathy for the challenges that clients face.

Practice Guidelines

The level of risk in a presentation rises as you go from a presentation to a small work group to a senior level meeting. An important way to minimize your risk and protect the investment of the work you've already done is to increase your practice time. Taking 1 or 2 days to practice a board-level presentation is well worth the time. As you practice, think about the following guidelines:

  • Practice using your presentation notes and support materials; say everything out load as often as possible.
  • Critique and provide feedback if other team members will be presenting.
  • Simulate the meeting; assign client roles to your own team members.
  • Anticipate all possible questions and objects; practice your answers.

Building the Positive Business Case

Why should the client care about what you are reporting? Including elements like these can strengthen the persuasive elements of your report and presentation.

  • Describe your purpose. How does it support the client? Where do you hold common goals and objectives? Share your intent in your approach to the project and be empathetic to the client's situation.
  • Describe the problems you discovered that can affect the client's success.
  • Detail what you see as causes of problems. How do these threaten the client? What consequences are likely? What are the client's goals/needs at risk?
  • Describe how your recommendations will help the client change and improve.
  • What's in it for me? Sell your approach! Show how your recommendations will be beneficial to the client by addressing their specific, measurable, business, and personal needs (profitability, stability, efficiency, growth, etc.)
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