The 4 Ps of Professional Presentations: Your Success Guide

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    4 Ps of Professional Presentations: Your Success Guide

    How are your presentations looking these days? Even informal, across-the-table presentations can have an impact on how you are perceived and how well you are able to influence others. Here is a brush-up you can use to be sure your presentations are “in the pink.” Check to be sure you have professional presentations should be like these:

    Presentable. How do you look? I recently presented to a potential client wearing a jacket that rode up in the back and gapped in the front. Thank goodness I had worn a layer under the jacket, but even so, I was distracted and probably not all that presentable. Always wear clothes that fit and hang well, don’t wrinkle or gap, and are clean. Take time to check your teeth and hair in the mirror before you speak. And then forget about how you look or are coming across. Focus on the audience and your message.

    Present. One of the biggest challenges we have in public speaking, formal or informal, is staying in the present moment. When we let our minds wander, we often lose our train of thought and end up with “us” and “ahs” and a very unsettling feeling. We often allow distracting thoughts or worry that something is going to go wrong, that the audience won’t like us, or that they aren’t reacting the way we expected. Any extraneous thoughts pull you out of the moment, and you lose focus and then your communication suffers. Stay focused, stay present.

    Peer tested. Sometimes we get so attached to our subject matter that we have blind spots. We lose objectivity. When that happens we need a second set of eyes on our presentations. What do peers think about your premise, your conclusions, and your call to action? What about your slides? Do they shed light, add meaning, or just muddy the water? How about anticipating questions? Ask a colleague to help you anticipate objections and questions ahead of time so you can be ready for them. Be sure to ask someone who really will give you honest feedback.

    Prepared. Sometimes it’s a last-minute or fill-in-for-your-boss presentation and you don’t have time for thorough preparation. But whenever you can, however, you can try to find at least a little prep time. If you are caught in a time crunch, instead of scrambling to build slides, take a few minutes to think through the big picture: what is your purpose in presenting? What is your point of view or message? What are 3-5 key facts or points that will make your point? What are one or two illustrations or anecdotes that would illuminate your point of view in a memorable way? If needed, use a single sheet of paper or a note card or two so you don’t forget those key points.

    Following these 4 Ps can definitely make your presentations more pertinent, more persuasive, and more professional. What other words come to mind to help you make an effective presentation?

    Author Gail Zack Anderson, founder of Applause, Inc. is a Twin Cities-based consultant who provides coaching and workshops for effective presentations, facilitation skills for trainers and subject matter experts, and positive communication skills for everyone. She can be reached at

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    Twitter: @ApplauseInc