The worst business presentations I have ever seen and what I’ve learned from it
Our company culture at adidas is certainly rather extrovert. Whether you like it or not: it matters how convincing and inspirational you are. Most employees are keen on presenting their ideas and finding a followership for them – be it in daily meetings, at retailer events or on the big stage when the next product collection is launched. Some feel more confident presenting, others have to work harder for top results.
“There are 1.7 million Google entries on how to deliver a good presentation, but we all still have to listen to many poorly delivered presentations in our daily business.”Jan Runau, adidas Group’s Chief Corporate Communication Officer
You can draw online on the experiences of the likes of Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and Groucho Marx. You can listen to TED talks, sign up for tutorials, buy books, join a presentation class and hire a coach. So if there are a million ways to improve your presentation skills, why are there still millions of poor, boring presentations? My theory is that the excessive supply of tips just adds to the problem. Don’t try to follow every single tip, focus on a few. Here is my selection that helped me to improve my presentation skills, too.
1. Forget Steve Jobs, follow Groucho Marx
Groucho Marx, the American comedian and actor, part of the famous Marx Brothers siblings, once said: “Before I speak, I have something to say.” The quote to me says: think about what you want to get across before you start your presentation and develop a nice storyline.
2. PowerPoint is out
- Present without PowerPoint. At least minimize the slides you use. There is no way that you can present 30 slides in 15 minutes (although people try over and over again). And there is no one who wants to see 72 slides. Calculate at least 2 minutes per slide. If it is a good slide that illustrates well what you are talking about, you can even talk longer per slide.
3. Don’t read, present
If you need a teleprompter to deliver your presentation, then please do not hesitate to order one. Barack Obama does it all the time, so it is all fine. If you didn’t order a teleprompter, however, please don’t write text on your slides just to read that text out loud. Everybody in your audience can actually read. They don’t need you doing it for them.
4. Show your face
Your colleagues are your audience. It’s neither your laptop in front of you nor the slide on the screen behind you. The only way to captivate your audience is by addressing them directly. So please face your audience. Or did you ever see Barack Obama turning his back on his audience when speaking?
5. Leave busy slides to busy business consultants
- The busiest slides I have ever seen are usually created by business consultants. They manage to put so much text on a slide that you wonder if they are paid by the line. As long as you are not paid by the line, please leave busy slides full of text to consultants. Build your presentation on great pictures that illustrate what you are actually talking about.
6. Don’t get childish at the end
Still remember when you were young. What did mum and dad always have to remind you about saying when you received a little gift or token from somebody? Say: “Thank you!” Those were the days. Today I hope nobody has to remind you to say “thank you” anymore so please don’t remind yourself by putting a “thank you” slide at the end of your presentation. Either you say thank you at the end, or you don’t because the applause is already roaring so nobody hears what you are saying anyway!
7. Feel the pleasure
I could go on for a while but I want to keep it short and simple (which by the way would be just another smart tip for delivering a great presentation). Ultimately, I would love to encourage you to find your own presentation style that fits your personality. Only then will you feel the pleasure of standing in front of an audience.
How to feel that pleasure by learning from another great comedian is a totally different story but one that you can read soon here on the adidas Group blog. Stay tuned!