In my previous post, I took you briefly through the whys and wherefores of using Microsoft PowerPoint and explained why it’s such a popular application with management consultants. PowerPoint is the medium you will use to deliver much of your communication when pitching to customers, providing project updates, and sharing the end results.
However, a mistake made by many consultants, especially when starting out, is to focus intently on the slide deck and its content, while giving minimal thought to the actual delivery.
Sharpen Your Consulting Presentation Skills
Because you are reading this post, you are not going to make the all-too-common error of overlooking presentation delivery. Instead, you have the benefit of awareness—the awareness that your presentation content will only account for around 10% of audience response. The rest will be dependent on the way you deliver that content.
Even the briefest crash course in content delivery can’t be provided effectively in a short blog post, but what I can do is introduce you to three important points to remember and to research further. These three presentation skills are consulting fundamentals, but are also easy to omit if you aren’t used to speaking in front of an audience.
#1: Engage your audience with some stories and anecdotes that tie into the topic you are presenting. That’s so much more interesting than listening to a list of facts and actually helps the audience to absorb the message you are delivering.
#2: Work out what’s most important to your audience. While it’s necessary for you to have gathered many details, you don’t have to regurgitate them all. Focus on giving the information that your customer will find most useful and actionable.
#3: Anticipate the questions you are most likely to be asked and prepare your answers carefully. Savvy customers will often test you with questions, even if they know the answers. When you are able to reply confidently with informed responses, your audience will afford you the credibility you deserve.
Take a Lesson From the Best
Finally, remember the Numero-uno most important presentation skill in consulting, which isn’t really a skill at all, but a discipline—it’s called rehearsal.
Don’t just practice your presentation delivery method. Rehearse every presentation before you deliver it.
Even the best and most confident speakers know not to take their delivery for granted. The reason they are so slick is that they spend hours going through their presentations as if in front of an audience. If you do the same, your confidence will shine through and your audience will concentrate on your message, instead of noticing your (perfectly natural) nerves.
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