My 10 best tips for peer to peer presentations

I had a request for coaching on peer to peer presentations recently. While it is far more likely that I will present in front of strangers than my peers, I still remember the stress of having to present to colleagues! 

I haven’t a clue where I heard this advice, but it is a constant refrain that I use before all my presentations…

THEY WANT ME TO SUCCEED!

Think about it…my audience doesn’t want me to suck. They don’t want to be in an uncomfortable situation. They just want to take the information that I’m giving and go about their day. It feels good to me to focus on giving them a stress-free presentation and that thought helps to ease my anxiety.

So now that you have turned down the crazy…here are ten suggestions for making sure you have GREAT CONTENT for YOUR audience.

1.     What are your expectations for your audience?

The first words out of your mouth should be answering the question, “What do you want the audience to do with this information?”

For example:

  1. This is for your information only – sit back and enjoy
  2. This is for your action – we will need to make a plan to make something happen
  3. This is for your decision – at the end of my presentation, you will be expected to make a decision

 2.     What expectation does your audience have for you and for your content?

What are they going to do with the information you are giving them? Spend some time imagining what they will do with your information and present the information in a way that will fulfill that need.

 3.     Focus on Content

Peer to peer presentations can be very forgiving of boring presentations. While you don’t want to overuse animation, a little bit can break up the monotony.  One warning…the last thing you want is for people to wonder how much company time you wasted finding pictures of sign posts and stock photography. Here is an unbendable rule…a couple of graphics are useful, but DO NOT use ‘clip art stickmen’ for ANYTHING for ANY reason! ‘Nuff said. Ok.

 4.     Be cautious with humour in presentations.

Your peers are there for business reasons and this is not amateur night at the Comedy Cave. If you have to preface any ‘humour’ with ‘I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but….’ STOP right there. If it COULD be offensive to some, then it IS offensive. Simply put. No arguments. Save it.

5.     How does your audience PREFER to hear information?

Do they like stories? Do they like lists? Do they like statistics? Can you convert any part of your presentation into a chart or graph?  If you have statistics, source them on the page. And for heaven’s sake, make sure all the numbers make sense on your graphs/charts/etc.  There is nothing worse than a pie chart that adds up to 103%.

6.     What are the three ideas audience should leave with?

To help people remember information, use combinations of three’s in your presentation.  For example:

1. Introduction (here’s what I’m going to tell you)

2. Content (oh ya, I’m telling you)

3. Summary (here’s what I told you)

 Further, within your Content segment, organize information into three categories. For example:

1. Skills

2. Mindset

3. Process

 (See bottom of the post for more suggestions for categorizing information.)

 7.     When the draft presentation is complete, ask for feedback PRIOR to presenting.

Before presenting, send a copy to your boss and to a peer and ask for thoughts on:

  • presentation/style
  • content
  • length

If they give overly general or unhelpful comments ask:

  • What specifically did you like or dislike?
  • What will the audience think of this presentation?  Will they find it useful?

 8.     PRACTICE!!

Confidence comes with familiarity over the subject matter.

Shut the door and read it out loud. If you’re wondering “who has a door on their cubicle?” then find a conference room, or take it home to practice in the bathroom.

 9.     Know that the audience wants you to succeed

I am going to say this twice because it is so important…

Even if the audience doesn’t have a choice being at your presentation, remember that they don’t want to waste their time and they don’t want to receive an uncomfortable presentation. They want you to be confident and self assured. They want you to have good content. They want to know what to do with the information. Give them what they want!

10. Proofread

Duh.

 As promised, here are some quick suggestions for organizing information into three categories:

  1. Assumptions, Findings, Conclusions
  2. Operations, Engineering, Support Services
  3. Option one, Option two, Option three
  4. Strengths/Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
  5. Pros, Cons, Recommendations
  6. Any suggestions?

What are your best peer to peer presentation tips? Any horror stories? Come on…we’re all friends here!

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