Technology can help to make presentations better, but it also has a habit of getting in the way. As a rule, it is better to concentrate on the content of a presentation as a way to stand out from the crowd, than to rely on technological gimmicks.
Bear in mind that a beauty contest usually means four or five companies are bidding for the same contract and even presenting on the same day. Each of these companies will probably be using the same (or similar) computer graphics packages and the same sort of projector. The chances are the presentations will be similar, too.
That's why structure and content are all-important. Think about what you want to say and say it clearly. Identify the main points you want to get across. Audiences are easily bored and tend to retain only the highlights anyway. Avoid cliches and unnecessary jargon. If your presentation contains phrases that mean nothing, the audience will probably remember nothing. Think about how you would explain something to your 11-year-old son or your grandmother. Next, create the presentation. Whatever equipment you use, think laterally. It is important to make the presentation vivid. Visual material and even video clips may be more entertaining than a static presentation, but be sure to tailor it to your audience.
Finally, think about how you will stage the presentation. Staging may mean anything from using a TV monitor to building a full set. It all depends on how adventurous you wish to be, how much room there is, how much set-up time is allocated and, above all, your knowledge of the audience. If technology is to be an important part of the presentation, make sure you know how to use it properly and test it out beforehand.
Peter Salkeld is managing director of Cadmium Presentations, 01252 873307.