Last night I sat through presentations put on by students at Lincoln Christian University. My colleague, Rob Maupin, teaches a senior-level intercultural studies class in which his students work in teams to identify a ministry need (typically overseas) and then develop a strategy to meet that need. The course culminates in a pitch delivered before a panel that evaluates the students’ projects and decides whether to fund the projects (or not). Essentially, these are VC pitches.
This semester’s teams had spent weeks preparing and it was evident in their work–these were the best presentations for this class I’ve seen in the past three years. Here are a few observations and points for improvement:
- You can never practice too much – While the presentations were good, they could have been better. Better comes only with practice.
- Have your best presenter lead the presentation – Your team leader may not be the best presenter. Hand that task over to best speaker in your group.
- Use a remote to advance your slides – Don’t shackle yourself to the computer/podium, pressing the space bar to advance your slides or–worse–advancing your slide, walking out to the audience, then heading back to the computer, back to the audience, rinse and repeat. It’s distracting and you want to minimize distractions.
- Get to know your audience – It’s a long-standing sales truism: people do business with people they like. Spend time before the presentation mingling with people in your audience. Learn their names, find out what matters to them.
- Listen – Many pitches are made by tone-deaf presenters. They won’t (or can’t) make adjustments to their presentation even if the occasion warrants. Read your audience, hear their questions/concerns, and be prepared to step away from your script and slides.
If you have a presentation coming up soon, grab our free report, 16 Secrets for Better Student Presentations. You’ll find helpful principles there even if you’re not a student.