5 Ways to Nail Your Next Presentation

Winging it is not an effective communication strategy if you want to motivate, engage and connect with others. Keep reading for strategies to nail your next presentation – whether it’s a 30 second elevator speech or an hour long motivational presentation – and achieve the results you want.

Gwen was the Executive Director of a non-profit organization when she hired me for presentation coaching. During our initial phone call I asked her, “Why do you want to work on these skills now?”

She said, “I’m tired of winging it and want to up my game. I want to look and sound like the leader I am.”

So, over the course of 6 to 8 hours, I worked with Gwen to develop and deliver a compelling 10 minute presentation. I asked about her goals, the audience and what she wanted them to think, feel or do after the presentation. Her ultimate goal: to get folks on board with her vision and motivate them to become more involved. Armed with that information, Gwen was able to craft the right story and use non-verbals like tone of voice and body language to help convey the message.

Gwen texted me after the presentation. “I nailed it!” she wrote.

She told me that several folks approached her after the presentation to share their own stories, to offer support and encourage her to take this speech on the road.

Whether you’re speaking to an audience of 1 or 100, how you come across matters.

To get better results from your presentations – whether you’re speaking to clients, your staff or a room full of strangers – consider the following:

Do the Work

Winging it is not an effective strategy. You must make the time and do the work – on your own, with the help of a coach or colleagues, or a group like Toastmasters.

Ask: Am I willing to do the work?

Have a Clear Purpose

Knowing the purpose behind the presentation allows you to craft a message that is clear, concise and compelling. Otherwise you risk getting off track or losing your train of thought.

Ask: Why am I giving this presentation? What do I want my audience to think, feel, do as a result?

Consider Your Audience

Knowing your audience – who they are, what they believe, what they fear – will guide content development. For example, Gwen knew her audience might shy away from the idea of sales, marketing and promotion. Knowing this, she could choose words that would resonate not repulse.

Ask: Who is my audience? What do they believe, value and fear? How can I alleviate some of that fear and move them into action?

Challenge the Status Quo

Presentations often look and sound the same. Some ways to challenge the norm include telling more stories, ditching the PowerPoint, or playing music to build energy and excitement. The environment, audience, and your level of comfort will determine how much of a risk you take.

Ask: How can I shake things up and challenge the status quo during my next presentation?

Involve Audiences

Instead of talking at people, involve them. Ideas include asking (rhetorical) questions, mentioning audience members by name (arrive early to get to know folks!), and adding humor or insights based on what is happening in the room.

Ask: How can I involve my audiences and build engagement?

Bottom line: Your Ideas Matter

Your voice can get someone out of a funk, give them hope for a better future and influence their decision-making or behavior. Give your ideas the time they deserve so you, too, can nail your next presentation.

Now it’s your turn to talk to me.

  • Do you wing your business presentations?
  • How is that working for you?
  • What steps can you take to make sure you get your message across and build engagement?

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About the blog

Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.


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