I had an odd occurrence the other day revolving around the topic of what to do before and after a presentation.
It started with me retweeting a British presentation coach Simon Raybould’s tweet that said, “Preparing in ADVANCE means you’ve got ‘free time’ before the audience arrive[s] to get your head straight. Makes a HUGE diff.” [Yes, I’m a bit jealous of his Twitter handle @presentations.]
Later that evening, my husband told me about a presenter many of his colleagues recently saw that hid from the audience before his presentation because he didn’t like to network, then abruptly entered the room when he was introduced, clapped his hands to get started like how an elementary school teacher would get a rowdy class’ attention, and after the presentation, he left just as abruptly.
Although this presenter’s message and content were worthwhile, everyone was talking about his odd entrance and exit. Most of what they talked about was his quirky style. I mention this because how you enter and leave your presentation effect your personal brand and how your message is received.
Now you don’t need “walk out” music like they do at baseball games (although that is fun), expensive video montages, or a fancy stage like you see on TED Talk videos. You do need to be cognizant of your entrance and what you do before the actual presentation.
What to Do Immediately Before Your Presentation
- Arrive Early – Remember to show up to the presentation early so you don’t have to stress about traffic, finding the building, locating the room, or rushing to set up. (This also lowers the stress of the event organizer too.) If you give yourself extra time, you don’t have to worry about increasing your anxiety.
- Show Up Prepared – I’ve discussed presentation preparation in numerous posts because it is the most important aspect of your presentation. Being prepared reduces the majority of your fears and stress, and as Simon Raybould says, allows you to “get your head straight”.
- Meet the Audience Beforehand – I always say to keep your presentation audience-focused, meeting them beforehand helps them be “human” and more like friends than a mass of people you don’t know judging you. Meeting even a few people also helps you to destress and you can personalize the presentation to them as well. Also, being prepared to present means you can look at your audience instead of your notes and engage them like you’re just having a conversation.
- Empty Your Pockets & Remove Your Name Badge – Many presenters keep keys, coins, and things that make noise in their pockets, which in an everyday scenario is fine, but when you’re presenting they can become distracting. When you’re presenting, the audience knows who you are and you can skip the name badge. (It also makes the pictures look more professional.)
- Grab a Sip of Water – You’ll obviously be talking a lot, so wet your throat with a sip of water before you start your presentation. Try to stay away from caffeine because it can dehydrate you and cause an energy crash mid-presentation.
- Relax – Take a deep breath, remember that you’ve prepared for this presentation and you’re talking to people you know. You’ll do great.
What to Do After Your Presentation
- Thank Your Audience – Thank them for their questions and being engaged, thank them for allowing you to share your message, and be genuinely thankful because they’ve given their time to listen to you.
- Give Out Your Contact Info – On your last slide, provide your contact info so members of your audience can get ahold of you if they have a question or want to hire you. (You’ll be amazed how many presenters do thought leadership style presentations hoping to get business and never provide any contact info.)
- Stick Around – Don’t bolt out the door immediately. Plan to stay a bit longer because most of the time, audience members have specific questions they want to ask you about their situation that is not applicable to the entire audience or they’re shy and don’t want to talk in front of a group.
- Debrief – The only way to get better a public speaking is to review what went well and what could be improved on during the presentation. Your presentation debriefs can include your presentation design and handouts, specific word choice, how you organized your thoughts, to how you interacted with the audience. Remember a debrief isn’t about being overly critical and beating yourself up, it is about improving your presentations skills. [Download out my Bid Presentation Debrief Form.]
One of the worst things you can do is immediately leave your presentation because it tells your audience that you don’t care about them. Even if you’re scared of networking and chatting with people, you need to stay a least five minutes, otherwise, it appears that you have better things to do and it is rude.
When you present, you create personal relationships with every member of your audience (that is why public speaking is one of the top lead generating tools for B2B firms), but you break that new relationship by bolting out the door.
- Download 6 Amazing Ways to Overcome Presentation Fear, a free guide.
- Learn more about how my self-guided presentation training curriculum, SpeakU, can help you dramatically increase your effectiveness when speaking and close more deals.
- Follow Speak Simple on Facebook and YouTube for more ways to improve your presentations.
How Speak Simple Can Help You
Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being an excellent presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.