It goes without saying: preparation prevents poor performance – but I’ve also learned that nobody likes a stiff conversation or presentation.
You’ll never see me give a PowerPoint presentation, and it’s rare that you’ll see me give a rehearsed speech. Instead, I prefer to speak from the heart. You’ll be better received if you put a bit of yourself into what you’re doing, and adapt to your surroundings.
And keeping it short is the secret to success. Throughout my long career, I’ve learned that audiences lose interest after 25 minutes or so, if not earlier. Which is why if I’ve always been a fan of the elevator pitch – or better still, the business plan on the back of an envelope approach.
Of course, facts and figures are important, but remember not to drown people in numbers. My eyes tend to glaze over as soon as too many stats are rolled out during a pitch. Keep it simple and think about how you can best sell people on your vision and dream in just a few minutes.
An aspiring entrepreneur needs to be able to quickly articulate their big idea to grab attention, captivate their fleeting audience and provoke enough curiosity so anyone would want to stick around and find out more.
So, be concise and speak on what you know. Let your passion shine through by being yourself and allowing your points to come across naturally. If the subject calls for it, use humour to connect with your audience and demonstrate your creativity. And if you're nervous, it helps to imagine that you are in your living room having a chat with a friend - it will also come across more genuine that way.
What do presentations mean to you?