Among the phrases that likely send shivers down the spines of many young CPAs is, “next week, you’ll have to make the presentation.” Rather than embracing the opportunity, too many CPAs dread the thought of delivering a presentation in front of a room full of eager listeners. Although there are many steps to making a successful business presentation, at the core are four “Ps”:
Preparation includes understanding the knowledge level of the audience and what it is expecting; getting key messages down to succinct sentences or phrases; knowing the venue, format, and the scheduled time-allotment; and, in the new environment of remote-casting, knowing how to share the screen and use the virtual whiteboard.
Practice requires a speaker to internalize the presentation so it can be delivered effortlessly and confidently. Don’t memorize it—that could make the talk come across as inauthentic, and if you forget one word or phrase, the presentation may come apart as you frantically search your mind.
Pronunciation flows from practice. Can you say all the words and phrases easily and clearly, or do you stumble? As you practice, make changes as necessary. Speak in breath-length sentences; if you mumble, struggle to complete a phrase, or swallow words, your messages will be lost.
Performance closes the loop. Use simple language. Using complex words may force the audience to focus on deciphering the meanings, and miss your point. Adjust voice tone and speaking speed to underscore points. Skip jargon and acronyms, as not everyone will understand them. When using jargon is essential, explain the meaning first. Hold the jokes—they can easily backfire. End strong, with a short overarching takeaway message: What do you want the audience to do and/or remember? In short, what you say and how you say it makes the presentation meaningful and memorable.