Executive Producer Johnathan “JB” Benson takes the mystery out of how to deliver a compelling presentation by highlighting top executive skills for an exceptional performance, and sharing expert tips to simplify your talk, tap into your passion, and connect to your audience.
Prepare & Practice
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. This is a refrain you’ll hear not only from the pros at Worktank, but also from the best, most high-profile presenters and team leaders we work with every day. Top presenters realize that in order to make their event or broadcast a success, it’s critical to commit the time necessary to build and refine a talk, and to reserve the time and space for the team to prepare for the event itself.
Whether you’re presenting to 1,000 people for 15 minutes or 500 people for 30 minutes, you need to be ready and comfortable with your talk, several days in advance. Worktank requires all presenters to participate in technical rehearsals, or what we call “dry runs.” These essential prep times allow the presenter to get comfortable with the combination of camera, lights and audio, as well as delivering their content live.
Your audience’s collective time in just a 30 minute presentation is equal to a quarter of your annual salary, so make it worth their time by being prepared.
Present with Passion
As you prep your talk, follow the three-act structure. In broad terms, the beginning calls out what’s at stake, what you learned, and why it’s important. The middle should be something personal, like a story or example to land the topic. The end should be a callback to the beginning, reiterating why it’s important.
Pro tip: Get to the problem early and fast. Then, share how you’re going to solve it, and why it’s important. Ideally, the beginning and end should be anecdotal or bold statements to make it memorable.
Throughout the talk, show the audience why you are so passionate about your topic. We’ve never had to tell a presenter to “show less emotion.” In fact, when Worktank reviews post-event surveys for thousands of events, the executive presenters that score the highest have the most fun and leave the audience feeling excited. If the information is valuable, tell your audience, “This is important, write this down.” If you’re amped up about something, say “I’m excited!” and then explain why. Always show your passion and include personal anecdotes. If you find a moment or experience impactful, use it in your talk to land a message.
Of course, it’s equally important to keep your presentation simple. Overly verbose speeches are one of the quickest ways to lose viewers. To hold your audience’s attention, quickly describe the main points and avoid complex “if this, then that” scenarios, which can cause viewers to glaze over and tune out.
Deliver with Purpose
Everyone in your audience will process information in different ways, so it’s important to include multiple ways of learning when you present. As an example, one presenter we worked with brought a simple handout: a song with lyrics that folded into origami that folks could save and put on their desks. In this case, the talk morphed into a keepsake that helped the audience remember the presentation, and its message, long after it ended.
More important than what you say is how you say it. The words you choose, and how the message is received or understood – that’s how you make the real impact. When your talk is near-final, explore the following as you rehearse:
- Inflection – use a combination of loud and soft tones
- Pentameter – find a calming pace and embrace the power of silence
- Pitch – be aware of the sound frequency of your speech
- Tone – set the overall mood or feeling (active/passive/formal/informal)
- Word choice – use connotations and association
Connect with Your Audience
Connect your eyes to your audience. It telegraphs trust, confidence, and authority on the topic you’re speaking about. If you’re presenting in a room with an audience, find five friendly faces beyond the house lights, and make eye contact with them, as well as any cameras in the room broadcasting to virtual attendees.
For 100% virtual presentations, your camera is your audience and it’s critical to keep your eyes on your camera and not on your screen or notes. To see the difference, try recording yourself reading from your notes, then record yourself looking at the camera, and watch both playbacks as a comparison.
To learn more about connecting with your audience through a camera lens, check out these Expert Tips for Online Presenting.
Winning Presentations Start with Worktank
Presenting, especially in front of a camera, is not something that comes easily for most people. Even the best, most high-profile leaders and presenters need preparation, practice, and a little help from the professionals. In fact, our producers have worked with everyone from U.S. Army Generals to executives from fortune 100 companies.