Public speaking is one of the most popular fears in adulthood. The very idea of standing at the head of a room will with your peers is a horrifying prospect for some. It’s the main reason why there are so many articles online providing feedback on how to give a presentation that will be memorable for your audience as well as one you won’t black out during the duration of. James Ontra, CEO of Shufflrr, is a communication guru experienced in giving unforgettable presentations without the fear which many suffer from. We spoke with James on his background with presentations, found out more about Shufflrr, and received great advice on how to give a better presentation.
Could you tell us a little about your background and presentation experience?
My first digital presentation was supporting the 1994 CES keynote address where the AT&T CEO spoke of “the cloud of information that will be available 24/7.” Since then, we created advanced presentation software used by NBC Olympics, Epcot Center, Warner Bros, Mercedes Benz and many more. All the web is a presentation.
How long do you recommend entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders prepare for a big presentation?
Your whole life. It is more than just reading words on a screen, you must make sure you know your information, can explain it, and above all, believe it. Authenticity is the most powerful component of a powerful presentation.
Can you share your top three pillars that all good presentations should have?
- Connect with the audience. Know who they are, and what is important to them. Then, make sure that what you present, and how you present it is resonates with their experiences.
- Control your message. Stay focused. Know the “reason” or communication goal for each slide. It could be informational, or it could be emotional to create some sizzle and excitement, or it could be the AHA! moment when your audience should be nodding their heads yes.
- Convince. If you can connect and control during your presentation, then you will convince your audience.
How can entrepreneurs and business owners use Shufflrr to its fullest potential?
Presentation Management makes all of your sales and marketing files available to present. It puts them to work, anytime anywhere. Presentations are typically dreaded because they are necessary, but tedious and boring. (Think about all of the mind-numbing PowerPoint presentations you sat through. Or how many hours you’ve wasted searching for or creating new slides.) Shufflrr automatically formats all your marketing files for easy presentation. It provides efficiencies at every stage of the presentation process from creation, distribution and updating; to use and reuse; to sharing and broadcasting; as well as tracking and analytics. When every step of the presentation lifecycle is in sync, your organization presents with one voice.
How do you recommend getting ready for a presentation if you have a fear of public speaking?
- Practice. Practice. In front of a supportive colleague. In front of a mirror. Even in front of your dog if no one else is around. The more you do it, the better you get. It’s like anything else. Just keep trying.
- If you believe your fear is insurmountable, entrepreneurship is not for you. Get a different job.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs and business owners on making their presentations memorable?
- Animate. Not just your images, but yourself. People respond to energetic speakers. And there’s nothing worse than sitting through a monotone, zombie presentation where the speaker says “uh” and “like” a lot.
- Visuals are to support you, not the other way around. Don’t read your slides. Know your information, and speak extemporaneously. You will come across as authentic, knowledgeable.
- Surprise. An element of surprise, like a dropped book or funny entrance will capture your audience’s attention and endear you to them. But be careful, it must be relevant to your topic, otherwise it’s just a silly gimmick.