The Lord of the Presentations
Part I – Preparation for the meeting and planning beforehand
Everybody has heard the phrase “Whoever fails to plan, plans to fail” accredited to Benjamin Franklin: one of the pioneers in the area, known today as “time management”. Despite Franklin living in 18th century, this saying is in full effect for all the subtleties of business today. In particular, for the execution of a good presentation that will cause a spontaneous burst of applause, that will put the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on a new year’s concert to shame.
To achieve this, we will start from the steps you need to do before starting the presentation itself! Do not skip this phase and spend time for the preparation! Regardless of how insultingly easy and trivial it seems, it will help you stand out among everyone else even before you come to the presentation itself.
Here are some of the key points, which you should pay attention to:
1.Logistics: Specify where the meeting will be held and how you are going to get there. Make sure you know how much time it will take you to get there, so you do not have to rush, cut traffic or stumble over the subway stairs, which will make you nervous and sweaty. When you have an important presentation, it is not a bad idea to plan arriving at least 15 minutes earlier even if the client is coming to you. This will give you time to prepare, to familiarize yourself with the setup and even to quickly go over the slides in your head. Few things make a worse impression than a person being late for a professional meeting, especially if it is the first one. Would you trust someone, who doesn’t respect the meeting by showing up on time? It is a rhetorical question. Appreciate the time of others and make sure you don’t waste it. Of course, unexpected circumstances can occur – should you face a scenario where being late is inevitable, make sure to let everybody know at least 30 minutes in advance.
2.Audience: Be prepared for everything and do your research in advance. A good starting point is the company website and its social media profiles – get to know its main line of business, as well as the people that will participate in your meeting and their exact roles and responsibilities, how they came to know your company and why they invited you. The better you are at collecting and putting this initial information together, the better chance you have of being properly prepared and your presentation to be flawless.
3.Resources: Prepare yourself for all possible outcomes. If the presentation is in your client’s office make sure the space has all you need for the presentation: a projector, a booked conference room etc. If the presentation is in your own office, make sure you try the office tech you will be using and make the necessary adjustments. Make sure you have the right cables and adapters for the laptop you are using. If you are using a laser pointer, make sure that the batteries are fresh and prepare spares if needed. If you have a total of 30 minutes for the meeting and you spend the first 10 minutes configuring the projector and computer, you are depriving yourself of valuable time.
4.Technology: Make sure you know the data medium (laptop, USB, CD etc.) which you will use for your presentation and bring spare ones. Even if you are carrying your own laptop, be prepared with a flash stick containing your presentation – that way you will have a backup if your laptop decides to break down in the last moment. If it is necessary to present from another computer, you have no guarantee that it will have the necessary software to open your presentation. This is why it is mandatory to save your presentation in several different formats (PPT/PDF).
Stay tuned for part 2 of this article – how to prepare the content of the presentation!