Presentation skills are incredibly important to today’s lawyers; whether meeting one on one with your client or in a boardroom with your peers, there are simple things you can do to ensure you come across as an effective presenter.
It sounds simple but often presentations fall down purely because the audience find it hard to keep up. Make sure to start with a clear introduction summarising how your presentation is going to take shape, a middle bit where you deliver your key messages and a conclusion where you repeat the key messages. Be sure to use short snappy sentences and make sure you don’t speak too fast. A good idea is to hold a rehearsal, if possible in the room you will use, to make sure everyone can hear you. When you practice at home do it in front of a mirror, if you can bear it.
You want to get the audience on your side as soon as possible so introduce yourself at the beginning and let your audience know if you are happy to take questions as you go or would prefer them at the end (which is an acceptable request especially if you have been given a time restriction). If at all possible, introduce a smidgeon of humour as reasonably early as you can.
If you are presenting as part of a recruitment exercise and are invited to bring slides BRING them, this is part of the test! Make sure your font size and style is readable to everyone in the room. Don’t try to write everything down on your slides as the messages will be lost; just pick the key main headings. Shy away from too many effects and transitions as when you have information and images flying in from all sides of the screen it distracts from your main message and makes it look busy. Just adding a simple click to bring in the next piece of information will do the job. It may also be worth creating a hand-out for the audience to take home with them. Always arrive early to test the computer and projector works!
It should go without saying but check your spelling and grammar and that formatting is consistent from page to page,
Make sure to smile – it makes a huge difference! While you may be quivering in your boots it’s really important to make eye contact with everyone in the room, Don’t feel you have to stay wed to a particular spot. Use hand gestures (especially if you suffer shaky hands) and NEVER put your hands in your pockets.
Don’t learn a whole talk off by heart but make key points on a card, it is always accepted to take in one postcard sized card with you. Do practice your talk a lot in advance in front of a mirror if you bare it.
If you have been given a time limit take a watch with you; it shows you are organised. Tell your audience you are keeping an eye on the time because of the limit (so you don’t look rude!). When you practice your talk make sure you can fit everything in. If you are giving a presentation as part of a recruitment exercise you would be marked down for not finishing and a good presentation always has a conclusion.
The thought of having to give a presentation can be petrifying at times. But when you prepare yourself and you have the tools to help you, you can create a winning presentation that will inform and engage your audience.