Your sustainability strategy may be off the charts good and your pitch deck summary may connect all of the dots, but whether you’re in front of the decision-makers, on the phone, or delivering a webinar, you should take a look at these 16 ways to improve your presentation skills for maximum effect.
Of course, each presentation may require emphasis on different techniques and elements to connect with your audience, here are four standard ideas you should always embrace:
1. Provide a takeaway – The audience of each presentation should walk away feeling that the information was designed for them. Pitching to mid-level managers about how to motivate employees will look and feel much different than selling a program to executives. If this means you need to deliver more presentations to smaller audiences, do it. The effect on behavior, and program impact, will be well worth the time.
2. Don’t wait to answer questions – It’s become standard to say, “We will get to your questions at the end of the presentation,” but don’t do that. Practice skipping around and you’ll be able to quickly address a question and jump right back in. This will make the presentation feel more like a conversation, as well as demonstrate that you know your stuff.
3. Always provide a solution – If you’re a consultant, you’re actually delivering a sales pitch, right? But don’t let your audience know you’re trying to sell them. Instead, frame your service offerings on how buying into what you have to say will benefit the client’s business. If you’re a sustainability manager, you’re still trying to sell your ideas, but still use that “business first” framework to demonstrate how your program aligns with larger company goals.
4. Don’t go data heavy – Sustainability is all about data, but presentations that are too heavy on data will kill whatever persuasive elements you’ve got going on. Even if the presentation itself is about the results of the sustainability reporting or LCA reporting process (i.e. a review of data), keep the slides simple, the data relevant and understandable, and provide a written supplement to audience members. By focusing on interpreting the crucial data points, delivering solutions-based or action-based analysis, the data will come to life.
5. Don’t run long – Really, just don’t. If you’ve scheduled an hour meeting, plan for 40 minutes of presentation time. You never know who is running late, who might have a question, or what discussion may result at the end of your time in the spotlight. Really tighten up the time.
By running short, providing a takeaway, being responsive, offering solutions, and delivering interesting content, your presentations will become one of your best assets for moving the bar forward.