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  • Writer's pictureLaurence Paquette

My views on presenting

Updated: Oct 23, 2023


Laurence Paquette speaking on stage
Laurence Paquette speaking on stage

Presenting is something we all do, everyday. Every time we talk, we discuss or we attempt to change someone’s viewpoint using spoken words, we are presenting. We don’t need a PowerPoint to present, we just need our words. In short, we are all experienced presenters and only when we label presenting as an actual presentation do most of us experience an increase in stress and nervousness.

In many cases, giving a presentation that is labeled as such is hard. It is hard because we want to do well, we want to come across eloquently, we want to deliver our content gracefully and we want our message to be well received. This is why presenting is hard. Personally, presenting makes me extremely uncomfortable and although I am good at it, I am always very nervous and I always regret accepting to present in the moments before I have to do so.

Personally, presenting makes me extremely uncomfortable and although I am good at it, I am always very nervous and I always regret accepting to present in the moments before I have to do so.

It's important to remember that a presentation that includes everything achieves nothing and therefore, creating a good presentation requires effort as the content needs to be massaged and tailored for the audience. I am not an expert in presenting, but I work hard to make my presentations impactful and therefore, I wanted to share some of my views on presenting.

  1. A presentation that includes everything achieves nothing. Focus is key. We can’t lead the audience by sharing all the knowledge we have. What we bring forward needs to be selected and specific. The only information that should be included should be absolutely necessary for the presentation’s objectives to be met.

  2. Presenting is not about the presenter, it’s about the audience. Audiences are only interested in information that is useful and that impacts them. To have an impact, what is brought forward needs to connect with the audience, which means that they need to care. In an ideal world, the information brought forward should change their life. A presentation that can change the audience's views, influence their behavior going forward or leaves a mark on their consciousness will always be a great and successful presentation.

  3. Having a statement. A good presentation should always have a core statement which is the essence and the core message of the presentation. Everything that you present needs to relate back to that core statement.

  4. Changing the status quo. A good presentation aims at changing the status quo. People don’t want to sit and listen to what they already know. Let’s be honest, time is a limited resource and listening to what we already know is not the greatest use of anyone’s time. Being reminded by someone on stage of what we already know is not compelling. A good presentation should bring new information forward and challenge the status quo. If you don’t know what I mean, think of any Ted Talk you’ve ever watched. All Ted Talks challenge the status quo. Presenters bring new information forward, change the audience's views and in turn challenge the status quo. This is what makes Ted Talks so interesting and appealing.

  5. Tell the audience what to do. It sounds arrogant but presentations are better when the presenter not only shares information with the audience that challenges the status quo, but also tells the audience what to do with this information. Offering a call to action or a new way of doing things engages the audience AND ensures the audience remembers the presentations minutes, hours and days after because the next steps are on them. By telling the audience what to do, the presenter makes the presentation an engagement where the audience ends up having a role to play.

  6. Information is rarely enough. A presentation is nothing without information. When that is said, a good presentation includes enthusiasm, emotions, attitude and to a certain degree, some acting to deliver the message with power. Content is always more relatable when it is presented with emotions as humans crave to feel.

  7. Know your audience. None of the above is relevant if you don’t know the audience. By knowing the audience you can tailor the delivery, the messages, the verbiage, the emotions and the tonality of the presentation to ensure the greatest impact possible.

  8. All presentations are about leadership. Yes, I say it again. All presentations are about leadership. A good presentation LEADS the audience from where it begins to where the presenter wants to take them. This requires leadership and intent. Every presentation should be seen as a leadership exercise where the intent is decided upon in the clearest way possible.

  9. Presenting is an opportunity. Presenting is always a great opportunity and a gift because the audience is giving the presenter their most valuable asset, which is their time.

So how do you make a good presentation?

  • Always ask yourself why you are making this presentation. Your answer should be that you need to achieve something and the best result can be obtained by delivering your message in a presentation format.

  • What are you trying to achieve? This needs to be as specific as possible. This will be linked to your core statement and will enable you to build all your content around what you are trying to achieve.

  • Know where and how you want to start. Start where the audience can relate to onboard them in a place they know and that is relatable.

  • Know where you want to end. By knowing where you want to end you can build the bridge needed to take the audience from the start to the end and ensure they can follow you on the journey and reach the end with you.

  • Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse some more. Practicing and rehearsing a presentation is critical. It allows you to adjust the flow, improve the delivery, test the impact (if you rehearse in front of someone) and tailor your body language to impact the delivery. I personally like to rehearse in front of my wife but also to film myself so I can see how I move, where I pause, where I speak too slowly or too fast and adjust after reviewing. It also enables me to chose my words so it sounds as natural as possible and not rehearsed.😉

My final advice is simple: well delivered crap is still crap, just presented in a nicer wrapping. So please, when you are giving the gift to present, take the time to prepare and ensure you present something that is relevant for the audience and that challenges the status quo.

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