You’ve heard it a hundred times – that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. You’ve also probably noticed that it only takes a few seconds to make a first impression and that they can often be fairly accurate.
Recently, we were given the opportunity sit on the other side, forming a first impression, during vendor presentations.
When presenting your company and everything that you do, the pressure is on – so here are some lesser considered tips so you can nail it.
- Read the room and choose the right place to sit
When presenting, you’ll probably be the first one to arrive in the room. That’s good! Now evaluate the room. Fire exits of course, but from where are attendees most likely to enter? Where are they most likely to sit? It’s easy to accidentally wind up with your back turned to part of the audience if you don’t take this into consideration. Think about standing while you’re presenting. It can be tempting to sit when you’re talking for two hours but it’ll be that much easier to adapt to the room if you’re on your feet.
- Cut it with the crazy PowerPoint animations
They make your audience dizzy, and that should be reason enough, but have you considered how those slides will look when you print them out? This is how most of the audience will be referring to your slides after your presentation is over so make sure they look good. Oh, and don’t worry about printing in notes view; if we want to take notes it will be easier to write and draw arrows right on the presentation.
- Bring the right people
Everybody should have a role in the presentation – they shouldn’t be there “just in case”, waiting endlessly for the right question to be asked. If it looks like you’re wasting your employees’ time, we will assume that you may waste our time in the future (or might even bill us for someone who said nothing!). If we ask a question that you can’t answer, feel free to send us an email afterward, we will make sure the right people receive it.
- Stick to your agenda
A well-crafted agenda is critical to ensure that you are spending valuable presentation time wisely. Be sure to think through your anticipated timing and build in additional time for questions. If possible, consider a practice run to verify your estimates are accurate. Practice runs are also helpful for ensuring you have smooth presenter handoffs and slide transitions. And feel free to use the agenda structure we’ve provided, in fact, we encourage it!
- BYOM – Bring your own materials
Don’t make any assumptions about what will or will not be provided. If needed, ask questions about the set-up ahead of time and consider the logistics of how your presentation will flow. If presenting from a computer or laptop that does not have a standard VGA connector, make sure to bring an adapter. An extra cable is easy to carry and can save a lot of panic later on. Similarly, if you’re planning to involve participants remotely, make sure a conference phone will be available and arrive early to test the sound. A muffled, remote participant may distract attendees without adding much value.
No one can plan for every possible scenario, and sometimes presentations will require thinking on your feet and adapting quickly; however, preparation and forethought can help you make a strong start. With only one chance at a first impression, it’s worth it to put in the extra work.