If you're in marketing, you have to know how to speak to a room full of people to be successful. It's that simple. That room might be filled with four of your colleagues or 10,000 strangers. It might be a client pitch, an internal planning meeting, an industry thought leadership conference, or even a TED Talk. But no matter where you're presenting, the requirements on your end are the same: You need to be able to present yourself and your ideas in a confident, impressive manner and draw in your audience to move those ideas forward.
For some people in our industry, presentations are their passion. They seek the spotlight. They send out speaker abstracts and proposals to any event that will receive them. They relish the theatrics that come along with client pitches and other meetings that require formal presentations. They love commanding a room. And because of their experience in such environments, most of these people are pretty polished.
This article isn't for those people. It's for the other 95 percent of people in our industry (and, arguably, the other 99.99 percent of people everywhere). The ones for whom presentations are, at best, a necessary evil -- a part of the job, but one that is reluctantly accepted. It's for the data folks who dread presenting the latest analytics to the creative and media teams. It's for the new social media manager who just got asked to do a presentation on Facebook marketing opportunities at the company's executive retreat. And it's for the rising agency star whose boss is encouraging her to "get out there" and become an authority at industry events.
There's nothing I can tell you that will keep you from sweating through your shirt before giving that all-important presentation. Nerves are a part of the game. Nearly all of the seasoned presenters that I've met and presented with still get nervous before taking the stage. This isn't a bad thing -- the adrenaline can be useful. But you'll find that your nerves are a lot easier to keep in check when you are thoroughly prepared and following some specific presentation best practices. Let's take a look at what those are. (And for you seasoned presenters out there, please add your own tips in the comments section below.)