How to make an impact with an effective presentation

17 May 2011

17 May 2011 | Steve Bagshaw in Orlando

Buyers make elementary mistakes in presentations, but there are steps they can take to boost effectiveness and impact, according to Jamie Crump, director, indirect strategic sourcing and supplier diversity at United Rentals.

First of all: “prepare, prepare, prepare”. And that doesn’t just mean know what you are going to say. Preparation also covers lining up allies before the presentation. Know what your stakeholders want to hear at meetings before the presentation: “Brand for marketing. For finance, total spend, depreciation, make v buy. And for senior management; revenue reputation, the assurance that we are to lead not follow, return on investment and EBITDA.”

She added that often when presenting to senior people there will be overruns or changes and the 30 minute slot you were promised will becomes 10 minutes - “and really that means six and a half”. So be prepared to know what can come out. “Have a plan, but be ready to ditch it,” she said. “Or go to plan B.” This of course requires having a plan B in the first place.

“Nobody is a natural at presenting,” she reassured her audience at the 2011Institute for Supply Management conference. ”It is painful to do so practice until you get better. “Knowing the subject matter isn’t enough. You have to be comfortable, relaxed and even semi-entertaining.”

She highlighted some frequent howlers made about slides, with the excuse, “I know it is small,” chief among them. “If it is too small to read don’t put it up there”. Another classic gaffe is the phrase “you don’t need to read this one”.

Use references the audience will understand. “Don’t talk about how great the sixties were to an audience of people born in the eighties”. And you will project your mood on to your audience. “Be relaxed and the audience will be relaxed. Use the microphone and prompters as just that. Don’t read”. And “If something isn’t working, stop doing it”.

And she urged delegates to ignore the following; People coming in and out and people on their Blackberrys or laptop (at this point your embarrassed correspondent was making notes on his own).

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