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Bigwave Deep Dive – Presentation Skills: What I learned

Led by Bigwave Marketing’s very own Sarah Brown, last Thursday, October 4th, saw a dozen or so Bigwave employees embark on yet another fantastic Bigwave Deep Dive.

Previously, Bigwave’s Sales Director, Nick Masson delivered an interesting inside look at the world of sales. This time around, however, the Deep Dive focused on the art of presentation, specifically, what makes an effective presentation and the nuances involved in delivering a presentation that engages with its audience.

During the everyday hustle and bustle of the workplace, these Deep Dive sessions afford a welcome change of pace for Bigwave staff, while also providing employees with an excellent opportunity to learn about areas of the company that they may be unfamiliar with or would like to know more about.

For those unacquainted with Bigwave’s Deep Dives, they are monthly training sessions held within the Bigwave Exeter office in which, the internal team are given some insight into other areas of Bigwave as well as crucial areas of business. In addition to being incredibly informative, the sessions re a forum in which Bigwave staff can discuss what they are taught as well as provide personal advice and professional tips.

So there we gathered, Thursday afternoon in the office’s briefing room, ready to digest the insider secrets that Sarah had to offer. Over the course of an hour and a half, Sarah provided what was, in essence, a presentation about the skill of presenting.

Yet, the Deep Dive offered so much more than that banal description would suggest. In fact, I personally came away from the Deep Dive feeling more confident in my ability to present, with a better understanding of what makes a great presentation and what skills are essential if one wants to present effectively.

I’ll attempt to convey to you my main takeaways from the deep dive as well as any personal titbits that I found particularly useful below…

What makes a great presentation:

Have you heard of a gentleman called Guy Kawasaki? Don’t worry, I hadn’t either. That was of course, until the Deep Dive session last week. Kawasaki is an American marketing specialist and if the insights from the Deep Dive are any indication, a bona fide presentation genius. Bear with me here and let me share some of Kawasaki’s and Sarah’s sage wisdom in more detail.

  • The 10, 20, 30, rule –If you take one thing away from this article, I implore you that it is this one rule! Kawasaki advocates this suggestion above all else and now, so do I.With those unfamiliar with the ‘10, 20, 30, Rule’, each number refers to a specific aspect of presenting. A presentation should be no more than 10 slides in length, 20 minutes in duration and using font that is no smaller than 30 points. 10, 20, 30, it’s as simple as that and is a must if you hope to present effectively.
  • Tell stories – An additional takeaway from the presentation Deep Dive was the importance and potency of storytelling. Sarah highlighted how opening your presentation with a short story or anecdote can prove to be a powerful tool in drawing in your audience and helping them to feel engaged. Sarah utilised this technique at the beginning of the deep dive and it immediately helped to establish a welcoming atmosphere where ideas could be shared without fear of ridicule or disparagement. Moreover, it was also an interesting and hilarious story about a certain political figure ruining a seminal 70s disco classic, but let’s not dwell upon that any longer, I haven’t yet finished grieving. Don’t worry ABBA, I’ll still Take A Chance on you…
  • Make it a conversation – It’s hard to be relaxed when you’re nervous, however the greatest presenters will tell you that connecting with your audience is one of the most important things. Be honest and enthusiastic and the audience will respond. This suggestion refers to my previous point. By creating a convivial atmosphere from the beginning, not only will the audience be more engaged during your presentation, but it will also go a long way in helping to establish a sense of trust between yourself and the audience, which in turn, will aid in providing those who are viewing your presentation with the key information they are there to learn.
  • Get the basics right – There’s a lot to be said in nailing the basics in whatever you do. With presenting, the same rule applies. Remember to keep your presentation simple above all else. Keep your core message simple. Ask yourself what the core message or three key points are that you want your audience to take away from your presentation. Refine this message and make it easily communicable. Furthermore, make sure to smile and make eye contact with your audience. This sounds easy enough, but many presenters fail to do this when it really is essential to do so. Smiling and making eye contact builds rapport, which in turn, helps you connect.
  • Practice makes perfect – This probably goes without saying but practice truly does make a presentation perfect. The more time you spend practicing, the more refined your presentation will be and the better prepared you will be in your ability to answer any questions that may come your way!

If you think I’m listing the obvious let me assure you that I am not. What makes me so sure? It’s because at the end of the deep dive session, every individual had to give a two-minute presentation (making use of the skills we had learnt during the gathering) on a topic of their choice.

I opted to present the reasons why The Goo Goo Dolls are my favourite band. Call me lame, but they rock! Everybody check out their album Dizzy Up the Girl! (Okay, fanboying over).The point is, these are the key pieces of advice that I took away from the presentation deep dive and are the main points that I will be implementing into my presentations in the forthcoming months. I hope they serve you well, best of luck in your presenting!

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