How to give a gripping presentation

Great presenters realize that people make decisions emotionally; they will rationalize decisions based on all the facts and figures, using the objective to help them justify the decisions they made subjectively, according to Peter Coughter in his book The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business. It is critical to make the audience feel that what you are suggesting is the best thing for them.

According to the author, the elements of an effective presentation include:

  • It’s a conversation, only you’re doing most of the talking.
  • Be yourself: what audiences want is authenticity.
  • Tell stories: we all love stories that grab our attention and hold it all the way to the end.
  • Know your stuff: don’t memorize the presentation, but know the underlying ideas thoroughly.
  • Relax and be personable: it’s the audience that really counts, so don’t worry about yourself.
  • Teamwork counts: in great presentations, teams present as if they really like one another.
  • Make it personal: a level of intimacy builds credibility and makes a connection.

The book is written from the perspective of an advertising agency executive, but the principles described are applicable to the marketing of any professional services, or more broadly to any form of public speaking or private presentation. In accordance with his own advice, the author provides numerous engaging stories of business won through persuasive presentations, and the book includes brief insights from a number of experienced presenters.

Many of the key points are reinforced by being repeated several times in the book. There is detailed advice on how to organize a presentation, how to use PowerPoint-type slides if they are suitable for your type of presentation, the importance of extensive rehearsal, and the effective use of silence, volume, pitch, tone of voice, facial expressions and other forms of “punctuation”. Anyone who wants to become a better presenter is likely to find some useful tips in this book.

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