Within the first few seconds of being introduced to someone new, a person reaches at least 9 conclusions. That means that before you even open your mouth to speak, some audience members may have decided if your presentation was worth listening to or not. With so many judgments being made at the start of any meeting, the pressure to make a good first impression is critical.
For CIOs and other IT leaders, giving presentations can sometimes be one of the hardest parts of the job. However, as the role continues to transform, the need for top-notch presentation skills is becoming more and more important. Below are five ways to make a lasting first impression on your next pitch.

Prepare Beforehand

One of the most basic but influential factors in giving a winning presentation is the part that happens before you enter the room: preparation. Preparing for your presentation ahead of time is especially necessary for those that are uncomfortable with public speaking or when speakers are talking about more complex topics.
If possible, assess the meeting space beforehand. Do a walkthrough of the area and test out the video and other equipment to make sure that it is ready. Problems with technology are one of the major hurdles that speakers often face. One solution to technology set-up time is to use a wireless presentation system that requires no wires or cable installation.

Dress the Part

Dressing appropriately for a presentation may seem like an easy part to remember. However, it is sometimes the most overlooked. In any setting, appearance is a huge factor that influences first impressions.
How you dress depends largely on who you are presenting to. For instance, presenting to board members, new clients, or conference attendees may call for business casual clothing. On the other hand, at some startup tech companies, dress shirts and jeans may be perfectly acceptable. For most cases, however, professional dress is usually the standard attire.

Start With a Bang

In a recent Harris survey, 17 percent of employees said that they would rather watch paint dry than sit in another meeting.
In order to overcome your audience’s anti-meeting bias, you need to make them want to listen. A simple way to get audience members excited is to show that you are excited about presenting by bringing energy and confidence into the meeting. Secondly, grab their attention right from the start. This can be done in a number of ways and doesn’t always require the “bells and whistles” one may think they need to grab attention. Catering the information specifically to them can help.

Organize With Data and Visuals

IT leaders may frequently have to speak on complex topics. When giving a presentation on subjects that require advanced degrees to understand, it is important to pair the data and statistics with easy-to-understand visuals. Starting out with an agenda or outline of the presentation can also give audience members the impression that you are well organized.
However, it is important not to focus solely on data. Data is a necessary component of presentations, but it should be coupled with a compelling story or meaningful insight that promotes action.

Involve Your Audience

Some pitches fail because presenters were speaking at their audience and not with them. The two concepts may sound the same, but they are very different. If you are proposing a new IT solution it is important to first understand what types of problems or goals the company or audience you’re pitching to experiences on a regular basis. Then, you can personalize your pitch examples specifically to them. Using collaboration tools can also make meetings more interactive and gives attendees a method to provide feedback in real-time.
Making a great first impression is tough, especially when the subject of your presentation relates to advanced technology. Speakers need to be conscious of how they start off a pitch, because the first impression can influence the entire presentation.
Additional Reading
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