In the professional field of the project manager you often have to present projects, in whatever way. In order to do this as professionally as possible, you should know about and be able to use various presentation techniques that can help you in your presentation. Then nothing will stand in the way of a good presentation to corporate clients. We would like to introduce you to a few presentation techniques.
A pitch (also known as “elevator pitch”) is a kind of “sales talk”. There is a little anecdote about how this term came about. A company founder with a fantastic business idea was looking for investors. At the exact moment she is in the elevator, a very rich man gets on. She briefly considers how she can inspire him as quickly as possible. After all, their elevator trip together would end soon. This is the situation you can imagine under said elevator pitch. However, project managers who work in the non-profit sector rarely find themselves in this figurative elevator. Nevertheless, it can also happen to you that you have to present a project in a very short time. Conferences, a random face-to-face meeting, or even work meetings could be considered for such a surprise situation.
Can I “pitch”?
Now consider for a moment. Would you be able to present your own project or a brilliant idea to a stranger within half a minute? The “pitch” in this case is the little helper. If you have the opportunity to plan the pitch, then a photo from your project that is as expressive as possible would be perfect. Because, as we all know, pictures say much more than words. In addition, this saves an enormous amount of time. With one look, it is clear to the potential investor what is behind the idea. Another way to let pictures speak would be to show an object. This remains much better in the memory of the counterpart than words.
Another possibility from the area of presentation techniques is the presentation. This is a much more time-consuming and detailed alternative to the pitch, similar to the presentation in school, which you probably also know. Today, every student is familiar with the word “Power Point”. This software is used exactly to be able to present longer presentations.
At home, everything is prepared, copied from Wikipedia, maybe rewritten a bit, a few pictures stolen from somewhere else and there it is, my perfect presentation, which lasts at least half an hour and at least leads to the desired “good” by the teacher. Please do not take what I have just described completely seriously. What works well in school is far from sufficient in professional life. The presentation should be a bit more professional. Power-Point (which has replaced the earlier flipcharts from the 90s) is certainly a good basis if you know it.
How do I then give a proper presentation?
As I said, Power-Point is a swell idea that can be very helpful in presentation techniques. But ask yourself the question, what do you want to follow such a presentation? In school, you may have fallen asleep during a classmate’s presentation. But what was the reason? Hopefully not because you were overtired the day before after a night of drinking. No, joking aside, it was most likely the boring topic or the even more boring classmate. What this is supposed to say: You have to captivate your counterpart with your presentation. He must be intrinsically motivated to want to follow the presentation to the end.
How do I inspire my counterpart?
There are people who have a natural gift. They can simply do it. But this gift is rather rare. If you don’t have this gift, if you have something like stage fright when you have to speak in front of others, don’t bury your head in the sand. It’s perfectly normal. Almost everyone has that. During my studies at the time, I had to take a six-week seminar called “Behavioral Training and Communication.” This helped me a lot to overcome my own fears and also to inspire the other person with my own words.
Anyone can learn this. The more often you give presentations, the more self-confidence you gain. An interesting aspect of this seminar was that video recordings of the presentations were made and then analyzed. The presenter then saw himself in the feedback discussion of the group usually more critical than all the others. The short slip of the tongue is not noticed by most people, only by yourself. What one learns in such a seminar are then conversation techniques, eye contact to all, not focusing on individuals, typical things like tap-dancing with the foot, avoiding and much more. Also taught is how to get someone excited right away. And here we are again with the pitch. A powerful photo at the beginning backed by appropriate words is a miracle cure.
A few PowerPoint tips
As just said, images are very important. The presentation should therefore also focus on this and contain as little text as possible. After all, simply reading off accompanying text will cause the audience to yawn and possibly even fall asleep. Explain as authentically and freely as possible what the images in the presentation are supposed to say. Tie in your words to a little joke or anecdote for entertainment. Slight stuttering is not a weakness if it occurs occasionally. It makes you look personable and comes across as natural. And as mentioned above, eye contact is important, don’t stare into space or just at the screen. Good support with the right gestures and facial expressions is also very helpful.
Pecha Kucha: One of the strongest Presentation techniques
Pecha Kucha (pronounced “petscha kutscha”) is a presentation technique originating from Japan. Behind the term is something like “babble of voices or chatter”. This is a special presentation technique. In a Pecha Kucha presentation, the presenter uses 20 slides. Each of these slides is shown to the audience for 20 seconds. Popular presentation programs offer the possibility to set this 20-second timer and automatically call up the next slide after the time has elapsed.
In the best case, the prepared slides contain only images. The whole Pecha-Kucha presentation is finished after exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Pecha-Kucha therefore requires a lot of practice. You have to be able to independently estimate the time well, otherwise you run the risk of running behind the presentation. With this presentation technique, you are in a constant race with the slides. Just think of it loosely as an exciting challenge. This is one of the presentation techniques that is excellent when there are many presentations in a row as part of a conference. In many large cities there are now so-called Pecha Kucha Nights, where 8 and 14 presentations are then given one after the other.
Pictures stay in the memory, words do not. And if you can then do something active, I remember it anyway. That’s what’s behind demonstrations, one of the other presentation techniques. If there are meaningful objects of your project, show them and let the audience touch them. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the audience to actively do something themselves. “Try the red switch and see what happens,” might be an instruction from you. Be creative in this area. And then success will follow.
For example, if there is a product that is delicious and can be tasted, let the audience taste it. It’s kind of silly when you get a lecture about these perfectly delicious candies, because they taste so good, and you’re not allowed to try them yourself. Every market barker knows this and offers one of his strawberries or grapes for the market visitors to try. Every vendor at the Christmas market does this intuitively, without being trained in presentation techniques, when you ask him if the honey wine is also delicious. He always has a small pint with a delicious sip ready for you.
Presentation techniques in practice
If you have now read to the end, this text has succeeded in not boring you. And besides, you are also a small step closer to becoming a master of presentation techniques yourself.