I was halfway through the two-day workshop on effective presentations when the ‘aha’ moment came. I was facilitating the programme for staff at one of the top 40 business schools ranked by the Financial Times (London).

It should have been evident by that point. After all, I’ve been obsessed with effective business communication for over two decades — not to mention my nine years of lecturing, facilitating, and delivering communication training programmes for executives at that globally ranked business school.

However, after participants shared their experiences of ineffective communication leading to negative outcomes, I knew that some communication practices that I’ve been championing for years would be evergreen.

If you’ve followed this blog at some point over the last 12 years, you would have read many presentation best practices.

However, below are four evergreen presentation techniques that I shared with the sharp attendees of the programme. Adopt the recommendations to elevate your delivery and catapult you to rockstar status.

#1: Use the ‘Reverse PowerPoint Preparation Technique’

The method you use to prepare your PowerPoint slides likely follows the predictable pattern below:

  • You receive the directive to give a presentation.
  • You ask some questions and quickly decide on a title (e.g. quarterly sales report, status report, request for approval for x).
  • You open your PowerPoint template, design the slides, and then paste the relevant information.
  • You tweak the design and include whatever visuals.
  • You practise with your slides.

Nonetheless, there’s a more effective way to prepare for your presentation that will ensure a great outcome besides sharing your relevant content.

It’s a simple process I dubbed the ‘Reverse PowerPoint Preparation Technique’. David McGimpsey, the ‘Presentation Blogger’, introduced the guide a few years ago on his insightful blog. At that time, I knew he’d struck gold. So, years later, when writing the first edition of Influence and Thrive, I  revised the sequence, added new angles, and gave it an appropriate name.

Below are the steps to take. Note the new sections in italics:

a) Focus on the audience.

Address their WIIFM (what’s-in-it-for-me) angle in your content. Do so by asking yourself the foundational question. Write it immediately.

b) Write an outline based on the point above and make short notes. Keep your messaging simple, brief, and clear.

c) Read the outline until you familiarise yourself with the structure of your presentation/speech and ensure logical flow.

d) Practise your entire presentation/speech without the notes.

e) Begin strong (a shocking statement, a statistic, a question, a story, a prop, etc.).

f) Practise with the notes.

g) Open PowerPoint (Keynote, Prezi, etc.), design/organise your slides, and input the material from your outline/notes.

Use little text and more visuals. One slide = one idea.

h) Practise with the slides.

i) End with a bang.

Give a strong call-to-action with a flourish. Be as dramatic/memorable as you can. Harness the power of ‘warm’ body language to remain top of mind.

Now, I concede that this process will seem lengthy at first, but stick with it. After using it for some time, you’ll move quickly and seamlessly through the steps. 

This ‘Reverse PowerPoint Preparation’ Technique’ is invaluable because of what it does:

  • It guarantees that you know your material inside out and can deliver it with or without the slides/visual aids if required
  • It guarantees that whatever the circumstances—power failure, tech failure or your speaking time decimated—you’d be calm. You’ll also know what to cut/highlight/reframe and STILL wow your audience because you’d have ‘internalised’ your material

Therefore, ditch your presentation preparation routine and use this foolproof method. It changes the game for you and transforms you into a masterful presenter.

#2:  Adopt the three rules of effective speaking

Keep these rules handy. They serve as powerful reminders and help ensure your presentation is well-received.

I) Know your audience so you can structure your content appropriately and ensure the information you share is relevant.

II) Use the three beacons of simplicity, brevity and clarity. They ‘light’ the way your presentation should go.

III) Give and request feedback. Not all feedback is equal, and effective feedback is critical while you’re presenting or soon afterwards.

#3: Visualise your success and reframe your mindset

Before making that critical presentation, visualise yourself being in your element, handling the Q&A like a pro, delivering an outstanding presentation, and receiving a standing ovation. The power of visualisation lies in the confidence and preparedness you will feel when you face the audience.

Reframing your mindset during the presentation

Now imagine you walk into the conference hall, meeting room, or any stage to face an (intimidating) audience. As you approach the front to speak, curious gazes follow you.

You face the audience, smile, and begin the session strong as you’ve been advised: You pause, share a story, ask a question, issue a strong statement, etc.

You know your stuff, and you weave in elements for engagement. You use open gestures, and you move strategically. Everything is great. You know so from the engagement and ‘flow’ of energy. Then it happens. You notice nonverbal signals that indicate some people aren’t impressed. You see frowns, quizzical looks, folded arms, stony expressions, etc. Those cues immediately dampen your confidence and cause self-doubt. You begin to panic and sense yourself going off on a tangent.

However, realise one thing:

Those signals may or may not have anything to do with you or your delivery. As body language experts explain, you can’t accurately interpret nonverbal signals with limited data.

So, reframe your mindset to positive convictions. Identify one encouraging gaze and believe the audience is on your side and open to you. Then, convince yourself you’re excited to share your content because it would help people or provide incredible value.

Reframing releases you to put on the best version of yourself, helping you to unleash your passion.

#4: Do the reps

That’s the best presentation advice I can give to prepare you for the long haul and sharpen your abilities.

Doing the reps is unattractive. It entails grunt work, grit, and consistently working on your craft—in and out of season.

Doing the reps is unglamorous. Plus, you’ll get a scarred ego and humiliation for your less-than-stellar delivery on some occasions.

You’ll often want to throw in the towel because discipline is tough. Worse still, you won’t always feel appreciated.

But here’s the thing:

The more reps you do in your speaking, the more persuasive you’ll become. When you embrace the reps, your (amplified) presentation skills will change minds, move hearts, and get results. Then, inevitably, you’ll positively impact your field in a way that seemed improbable before you committed to self-improvement.

One male participant in the two-day presentation programme explained that he knew he’d become better at presenting by the second day. He could clearly explain the difference in his confidence and delivery.

Do the reps.


These four evergreen practices are not the final word on effective presentations. So as not to publish an overly long article, I didn’t tackle other vital aspects: the importance of body language to boost your credibility, the four Cs you shouldn’t ignore or the four pillars that will make your presentations unforgettable.

Nonetheless, if you commit to the practices highlighted in this article, you’ll quickly notice your presentations becoming sharper, more persuasive, and more actionable. Plus, your confidence will increase, making you enjoy speaking and giving presentations that you used to dread.

Trust me on this.

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N.B: First and third images are courtesy of Peggy and Marco Lachmann-Anke via Pixabay. Second image is courtesy of Gerd Altmann via Pixabay. Last image is courtesy of John Hain via Pixabay.

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