The Keys To Presenting Effectively – Even if You Hate Presenting

Presenting is a key skill for accountants and professionals.

You have to be able to get your ideas across to a whole host of people.

Some will be hugely interested in what you have to say.

Others less so.

Here’s the issue.  Many accountants and professionals in my experience either:

  • Hate presenting and avoid if they can.
  • Do it reluctantly and get it over as quickly as possible.
  • Go with the flow and actually quite enjoy it.

Which category are you in?

There are however some key things that you can do to present effectively, even if you hate presenting

Keys To Presenting Effectively


Take Control of Your Thinking

Accountants and professionals are often their own biggest critics (I started in accounting in 1980 so I get it).

Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve.  At the same time it’s easy to go into negativity mode and find fault.

The more positive you can be the better.

The more able you are to keep a sense of perspective when presenting the better.

It really starts with you.  

Write down all the negative thoughts and ask yourself which of the thoughts are true and which are assumptions.

Don’t Buy  Into The Myths

There are a lot of myths around presenting.

One of my favourites is that you are somehow just born with great presentation skills.  Of course this isn’t the case.  No one is genetically wired to be a natural at presenting.

Another is that you won’t be nervous.  Sorry, you will be and if you are not then you should be worried.

A third one is you can wing it and don’t need to prepare.  This isn’t just a myth but a recipe for disaster.


Determine Your Goal or Outcome

Know what you want to achieve.

If you don't it’s a bit like trying to plan a journey when you don’t know the end destination

Research Your Audience

When presenting you are going to have a range of people in the audience.

Each with different levels of experience and levels of interest in what you are presenting.

Each impacted differently by what you are saying.

The better you know your audience, the better presentation you create and deliver.

Remember the audience are the most important people in a presentation.


Think About Your Content Carefully

When I first attended a presentation skills course myself in the early 90s, nearly 70% of the time was focused on content creation.

This surprises many.  But if you think about it the amount of time you spend creating the presentation is going to be much than the delivery time.

Your content needs to be relevant to your audience.

Your contents requires structure.

And slides while common should not be the presentation.  They are there to support the presentation.


Practise, Practise, Practise

You can’t practise enough when it comes to presenting:

Use audio.  Use video.  Do a run through with someone and ideally a small group.



Get Yourself In The Zone

Have a warm up routine to manage nerves and get your voice ready.

Have A Clear Opening Middle and End

It might seem obvious.

Yet it’s surprising how many forget to do this.

Your opening sets the scene.

The middle is the detail.

The end is the recap or call to action.


Prepare To Deal Well With Questions

Think about and anticipate questions you might be asked and have answers ready.

Be brief in responding.  If it’s a long answer, take it outside of the formal presentation.

Be completely honest.  If you don’t know the answer say so and commit to coming back within a set period of time.

Reality: Presenting can be challenging but by following some simple steps you can become a whole lot more effective.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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