Every PowerPoint presentation is your chance to perform

Next time you are about to give a presentation, take a deep breath and imagine yourself walking on stage about to give the performance of your life.

Presentation advice

To the presentation stage
Every business presentation is a form of theatrical performance. A theatre play succeeds or fails depending on how well it engages with the audience and how well the actors perform on the night. Audience members will like a show if the story appeals to them and if the actors perform it effectively and it is exactly the same with a business presentation.

Every theatrical company plans and rehearses their play in order to succeed, and these same principles we can apply to the business world.

Structure The structure of the story and how it is produced are both very important. These factors can determine success or failure, before any actor has spoken a word. And of course every actor must rehearse and know their lines so that they can do justice to the story and production.

If you want a good format for your next sales presentation, think of an Agatha Christie or other detective show. Typically each episode follows a similar formula. In the beginning, we see a crime being committed, and the remainder of the show and reasons for watching to see how the detective manages to unravel the mystery and solve the crime.

This is an ideal format for a sales presentation. The outcome can be revealed at the beginning, leaving your audience in no doubt of what you expect to happen. Making your proposition clear, the remainder of your sales presentation should then be spent on justify your arguments that helped reach your conclusion.

Business people don't attend sales presentations just to be entertained and intrigued, they want to get some value from their investment of time. So you must give attendees the value they deserve. They will be interested in your story and will want you to help them reach your conclusion. And your role is to make their conclusions match your recommendations.

Here's a simple four-point murder mystery style structure for a sales presentation. This format could apply to any presentation with the objective of persuading the audience to take a course of action.

   1. The problem or situation requiring a solution
   2. The nature of your solution (proposition)
   3. The justification for your proposition
   4. The recommended next steps

Practise makes perfect Once the story has taken shape, you must practise your presentation and performance. Actors rehearse their lines, moves and gestures to bring their story to life. And that rehearsal is very important to the success of production.

Every performance starts its life in a rehearsal room but some final rehearsals are done on the stage where the play is to be performed. You might not get that luxury with your presentation but you must be comfortable with the performance environment and the media that you intend to use. Whenever you can, always insist on seeing the location beforehand.

Make ever presentation as if it were your last Regard every presentation as a performance you are making to a critical audience who has paid for its seats and you'll start to reap some rewards. You won't win any Hollywood Oscars but you will win more business.

Remember every great presenter started somewhere. Whether it was back in the days of projectors and hand mounted slides, overhead projectors, or the early versions of PowerPoint.

Presenting is like so many things, something that you will become better and better at, the more you do and the more you practise. And just as any good television detective worth their salt knows the identity of the culprit from the outset of their performance, you too will also know that your presentation will be a success with enough practise the moment you walk out onto the presentation stage.