Presentation skills is the one skill that can raise your value by 50%. Warren Buffet once said to Columbia Business Students:
“Right now I would pay $100,000 for ten percent of the future earnings of any of you, so if you’re interested, see me after class.”
After the laughter subsided, he turned serious. (source: www.carminegallo.com)
“Now, you can improve your value by 50 percent just by learning communication skills–public speaking. If that’s the case, see me after class and I’ll pay you $150,000.”
How can we overcome our stage fright and deliver an engaging presentation? Here are my 9 tips:
1. Use Props
Since props are rarely used, they easily catch the attention of the audience. I remember my university finance lecturer putting a tiny cocktail umbrella over his balding head to illustrate numerous big US and European banks, during the great financial crisis, carried too little capital to weather the catastrophic loss. They got themselves completely under water and had to be bailed out
by their respective governments. Because of his props (and his almost hairless head), I still remember him and his lecture after 18 years.
2. Free Your Hands
To free my hands for demonstration and showing the props, I always ask for a clip-on mic. Using a mic also allows the audience to hear me clearly even with my back facing them while I write on the whiteboard or look at the screen.
3. Make it Fun
You notice I refer to the people attending presentations as audience instead of participants because a presenter is supposed to
Educate and Entertain.
I prepare my presentation as if it is a show. The audience travel far to attend my talk, they deserve to have a good time. Photo below shows me attempting to do a cooking show - "Dishes Under Ten Minutes".
4. Bring Your Own Tools
Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong! To minimise hiccups, I bring my own set of presentation tools. Here is my list
- iPad (or laptop) + VGA adapter
- Apple’s Keynote (instead of MS Powerpoint)
- laser pointer / white board markers
- iPhone to control the slides. On the iPhone, I can see both the current and the next slide. In this way, I can talk about the next slide before showing it to ensure smooth flow of the presenation.
5. Forget the Lectern
(sometimes incorrectly referred to as the podium)
I almost never speak from behind a lectern but next to it or walk along the stage. If the room allows, I will walk into the audience too.
6. Be Audience Specific
Even if my content is similar, I prepare and deliver my presentations specific to the audience.
7. Energise Your Voice
- When presenting to Primetime (women’s group), I was cognisant that some of my time management tips like wearing only white shirt to work is not quite applicable to women.
- At Peking University, I presented in Mandarin and used examples specific to China and Chinese culture.
- At Cambridge University, I started by talking about Mr Lee Kuan Yew, first prime minister of Singapore, who graduated from Cambridge in 1949.
More important than any gadget mentioned above and your command of the language, is your voice control. Vary your volume, pitch and speed, inject energy because the audience can feel your voice more than they do with your slides.
8. Make MultiMedia Multi
I include photos and short video clips in my presentation to add variety. Once, I even sang a song! Thanks to my ex-boss from Citi, Eugene Acevedo, who rewrote the lyrics of Beatles’ Yesterday to describe how an importer uses foreign exchange option to hedge USD/JPY. Listening to me sing gave the audience a different experience (I am not saying I am good, just different!).
9. Record Your Presentation
Finally, to improve fast, I sometimes set up a video camera to record my students' or my own presentation for review later. It is so weird to hear our own voice from the video and I hate watching myself! However, it is an effective way to improve ourselves without hiring a coach.
Use one or two tips each time you present and develop your own style. Very soon, you will be delivering engaging presentations. Enjoy the show!
Professor Eric Sim teaches Investment Banking, Fintech and Communications at Institute of Life (#IOL) and 6 universities in Asia. Click here to see where and what he has been teaching. Welcome to follow IOL on Linkedin.