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Before this WordPress site went live, I had posted a 3 part series through LinkedIn about Product Manager’s as Presenters. The basic premise was that whether it is to customers or executives, at an industry conference or an internal company meeting, as a simple mechanism to share information or to build influence … one of the responsibilities that inevitably comes our way as product management leaders is presenting.

Part 1 was about combating anxiety, and parts 2 & 3 were about handling a hostile audience (preparation and handling Q&A). Yesterday, I stumbled across this Forbes article title that fits within that mold as Part 4 – 10 Tips For Powerful PowerPoint Presentations.

Not sure why the author chose the title they did as it really doesn’t deal with PowerPoint per-se, but rather some useful advice about making your presentation as effective as possible. Following are the summary points with my thoughts, I’d encourage you to check out the article if it sparks an interest.

  1. Arrive Early – The author talks about it in the vein of the audience losing patience, but I think about this one more with respect to being in the right frame of mind as you enter into the discussion … getting your game face on, if you will.  The last thing you need is to be rushing into a presentation with your thoughts scrambled.
  2. Check the Setup – Is the room set up to effectively engage with your audience?  If not, make some adjustments where necessary.  For example, I am not a podium presenter … too much natural energy that prevents me from wanting to stand still.  So I like to walk around during my discussion, and sometimes the setup isn’t conducive to that.
  3. Test all Technology – How many times has this happened to all of us?  The batteries in the mic are dead, or they forgot to setup to include audio to go along with your visual, or the projector won’t seem to sync with your computer.  All made worse if you show up at the last minute!
  4. Mix it Up – The author talks about a blend of music, video and presentation materials.   But what really holds people’s attention (and what they remember) are compelling stories.
  5. Rehearse – One of the reasons I am comfortable not standing behind a podium … because I don’t need to read the presentation (which isn’t effective by the way).  For every slide, make sure you understand what the 3 main points are that you want to hit, and walk through it many times to perfect the pitch.
  6. Maintain Eye Contact – Points 6,7,8,9 all seem to fit together in my opinion. I like the quote the article uses – “Your goal is to work the room, look people in the eyes, judge people’s responses to your presentation and engage.”  Make sure you are positioned naturally to engage with the audience conversationally and make it comfortable for them. Read the audience and adjust as necessary.
  7. End Early and On A High Note – Sometimes we want to share so much information in a short amount of time that we cram too much into the slides and rush through them.  Resist that temptation, and structure the presentation accordingly … using point #5 to ensure that you are fitting comfortably in the time slot with adequate opportunities for Q&A where appropriate.