Presentation tips for speaking at events to raise your profile

The article below was published in The Sunday Business Post in the Small Business Section on January 19, 2014.  The article was printed as part of a special feature on women in startups.  However, the tips below can be relevant to everyone in business, male or female, startup or established.


Presentation Tips for Startups

As a start up you might be looking for ways to raise awareness of you and your business that don’t cost a fortune.

One way to do this is to speak in public.  There are plenty of approaches to  this – if you are a member of an institute you might speak at one of their events or maybe even at a conference.  However, you want to make sure that you get your message across and that you are memorable – for the right reasons.

1.     Decide your key message

As you prepare your presentation it is absolutely vital that you decide on your key message or messages – try and keep the messages to a maximum of 3.  Agree the topic of your presentation with the event organiser.  Be very clear on why you are there.  Are you there to share your expertise in general, talk on a specific topic, share your business experience or simply to talk about your company?  In any event, you must be crystal clear on your message.

2.     Know your audience

Finding out as much as you can about the audience you are presenting to can really help you to tailor your message and make that all important connection to create rapport.  So how can you do this?  Contact the event organiser and ask them the pertinent questions.  You can also look at the attendee list and Google attendees, look at their websites or perhaps ask others who have previously spoken at the event.

3.     Use a good structure

Just as a good meal has a starter and dessert – so too, should a good presentation have a pre-planned opening and a pre-planned closing.  As a speaker, it gives you added confidence when you know your opening and closing almost verbatim.  This means that no matter how the presentation has gone in the middle, you will have given a great first impression and left with a lasting positive impression.

4.     Slice and dice the PowerPoint

Ideally your slides should only contain a couple of words.  They are a visual aid – not your teleprompter.  The audience came to hear you speak – not read!  A suggestion for font size is to take the average age of your audience and double it.  For example if the average age is 30, your font size should be 60.  Following this guideline alone helps you keep text to a minimum.

Consider having 2 versions of the PowerPoint – one you present from and the other you give to them as a hand-out with the additional detail, where necessary.  This also gives you an opportunity to send them off with some branded material.  Incidentally, if the event has a Twitter hashtag be sure to include your Twitter handle on the first and last slide.

5.     Practice, practice, practice

Sometimes we hear people say that practice makes perfect – while there is no guarantee this is true, practising will certainly make you more familiar and more comfortable with your material.

So how do you practice effectively?

Practice out loud – if you can get a colleague or even a family member to listen, all the better.  For a big presentation you may ask someone to video you, this allows you to experience what your audience will see and hear.  Another  option  is to record yourself on your phone, this way you can play it several times to familiarize yourself with the content and the all-important timing.  Which leads on to the last point…

6.     Start on time and finish early

How many presenters run over time?  Would it be nice to stand out from the crowd, as being the one who managed to get their message across clearly and finish in under the allocated time?  With the right preparation and plenty of practice you will be able to do this.

They say a good presentation should be like a mini-skirt; long enough to cover the bare essentials but short enough to keep people interested!   By applying the above to your presentations you can achieve the “mini skirt effect” while also raising awareness of you and your business.


Sunday Business Post – 19 January 2014

For more on “How to make your Presentations like a mini skirt” click here.

If you would like some 1 to 1 help with a Presentation click here.