Good English language skills are important for delivering a good corporate presentation. It is very important to prepare and practice well for every presentation that you make, but the fact is that you just can’t be prepared for everything. No matter how well you’ve prepared your slides and notes, and how many times you’ve practiced speaking in front of a mirror, when you’re on the ground, things might happen to throw you off balance. When this happens, there’s no choice but to recover and move on. This takes some practice and some tricks of the trade.
Imagine this. Your boss has asked you to present a market research study comparing cell phone brands popular amongst the teenage target group and come up with positioning ideas for a new phone being launched by the company you work for. After a few weeks of hard work involving more than a few late nights, you know everything there is to know about cell phones. You can talk about cell phone features in your sleep. Your slides spell out the logic for your recommendations very clearly. You have a plan for taking your boss through your approach, different options compared, and finally get to the recommendation you’re making.
During the final presentation, you have barely covered the first slide when your boss literally takes over the computer and scrolls right to the final slide that has your recommendations. He starts asking you questions about points that you intended to cover anyway, but in a different order. This throws your structure completely off balance and what was supposed to be a brilliantly executed presentation is fast becoming just the opposite. What should you do?
To begin with, you can try to avoid situations like this by giving some thought to your audience while creating the presentation. For example, if you know that your boss is a very result-oriented and somewhat impatient person, you might want to put your recommendations or final outcome up front and then delve into your logic.
During the meeting, if this does happen, don’t insist on sticking to your original plan and structure. Instead, go with the new flow and try to get in sync with what your audience is trying to achieve. Good English Language skills will help you answer any question related to the topic of your presentation. So, think on your feet and don’t lose your balance.
The Glazed Eye Syndrome
You are presenting to a senior leader in your company who has just flown in for a series of sessions. He got in late the night before. Since 9:00 am that morning, he has been meeting different teams and going through one PowerPoint after another. By the time your session comes up at 2:00 pm, his jet lag has really started to kick in. When you walk in to make your presentation, you notice that he has several empty cups of coffee on his table and has just finished lunch. You start making your presentation hoping to make a real impression on him. About five minutes into your session, you notice his eyes glazing over a little bit. He’s trying to keep up with you, but you know that the jet lag is winning. What do you do?
First of all, try to put yourself in his shoes! If you’re jet lagged and are being forced to listen to slide after slide of numbers, charts, and strategies, wouldn’t you want to get right to the point and hear only what’s most important?
So, as a presenter, try to recognize what’s most important to your sleepy audience and talk about that instead of insisting on the structure you had originally prepared. In fact, it’s better to stop at a logical point in your presentation and simply ask the listener what he would be most interested in talking about – what matters most to him. Once you know what he is looking for, get straight to the point and keep your presentation short. You’ll make a much bigger impression that way.
After much back and forth with an important client, you have finally managed to get a one and a half hour time slot to take them through your proposal. However, when you reach the client’s office, ready with your 60-slide presentation and accompanying hand outs and hoping for a really successful discussion, you’re told that your client has an urgent meeting to attend elsewhere. He can now give you only 20 minutes. What do you do?
After you’ve had a couple of minutes to get used to the change of plans, quickly re-strategize about how to conduct your now much shorter meeting. Ideally, when making your slides, you would have put in a lot of thought into what you’re really trying to communicate. What is your key message? What’s the main idea of your story? In your twenty minutes, you will be successful if you can get this main idea across. To do this, you will most likely have to abandon your carefully prepared PowerPoint deck and just talk to your clients. Substantiate with slides only at key points. If you have prepared an executive summary slide, which is always a good idea especially for long presentations, you can simply use that slide for your shortened session. If you make a great impression, chances are you’ll get to come back for a longer session soon.
Develop your English Language skills
Good communication skills are important for corporate presentations. To improve your English, develop the ability to listen and have a good hold on the English language. If you feel you lack in your English speaking skills, you can try EnglishHelper’s free English learning program and improve your spoken English.
The situations described above are just a few examples of the kind of things that can and almost always do go wrong. Of course, changing plans on the fly is never easy. The trick is to prepare well and be very clear about what you’re trying to communicate and achieve. Don’t lose your cool and do the best you can in the circumstances. With practice, you are certain to get better and more confident, no matter what situation is thrown at you.