When Trolling for Business, Don’t Wing It
Finally, as it relates to structure, make sure that you exercise the basics in the follow-up. It could be a courtesy call; it could be a follow-up email note. Some presenters are great on this, and others never do it. It sounds simple; many times it’s not done.
Let us now turn to the stylistic dimension of presentations and begin with a discussion of graphics. Graphics should support, not fight, the content and the theme of the presentation. Don’t be a PowerPoint junkie. PowerPoint is a great presentation tool, but it can be easily over-used and abused; this is particularly true with animation. Animation, for those who cook, is like tarragon. Tarragon is a wonderful herb, but it’s also really strong. A little bit of it goes a long, long way. Graphics should be tested against the following question: Is this mostly an aid to an audience learning or in the presenter presenting? Graphics must aid the listener and add to the learning moment. Speaker notes shouldn’t be on the screen either; these should be used as podium memory aids or committed to memory, but not on the screen.
The power of rehearsal can not be overstated. Nearly every person I talk with about this point agrees that it should be done, but they also assert that they don’t need it. Let me tell you something—don’t kid yourself, you need it. We all need it!
One of the finest speakers of the English language of the 20th century, perhaps ever, was Winston Churchill, who would rehearse before every speech and before every question period in Parliament. One often hears from rookie sales people, “I don’t want it to sound memorized.” Guess what, some of the greatest moments in oratory were committed to memory before delivery. If Churchill did it, you can do it and your staff can do it.