Presenting to your staff?

At a time when ‘internal communications’ are becoming ever more of a business buzzword, I speak to an increasing number of clients about how best to present news and information to their colleagues.

As with any speech or presentation, there are a number of tricks to ensure that yours does not lead to ‘Death by PowerPoint’, a condition that can have the audience yawning at ‘hello’.

It isn’t PowerPoint itself that creates the problem.  Quite the opposite.  It actually the tools to help bring a subject to life.  But when you are talking to your own staff, you do not need to fall into any if these traps:

  1. Repeating ad-nauseam everything they heard at the last internal call-to-arms
  2. Showing them every line of every balance sheet and set of accounts that you can find
  3. Impressing them with an organogram showing how every individual within the team interacts
  4. Running through so many objectives and visions that even you lose sight of what matters
  5. Displaying your entire script on each slide so they have to listen to a demonstration of your reading ability

It is amazing how senior people who tend to give these sort of presentations start with the premise that they need to be formal and prosaic.

As a rule of thumb, an internal presentation should be as fun and straightforward as possible.  The idea is to engage your staff rather than alienate them.  And that is rarely achieved through a forest of facts, figures and hypotheses.

Which may sound like common sense.  But it is anathema to many business leaders, whether they work in the public or private sector.  So if I’ve covered the ‘don’ts’, here are a few tips for inspiring your colleagues:

  1. Keep it simple.  Why present for half an hour when you can say it all in ten minutes?
  2. Use your slides to illustrate and amuse, not as an autocue
  3. Decide on the key message you want to convey and stick to it
  4. Prepare by writing a synopsis of your speech or presentation in no more than one hundred words.  You can then use that paragraph as a framework for the rest of your content

This is only the start, but I hope it helps.  I would, of course, be delighted to help you work on your next one!