Former Global Delivery Lead for Executive & Leadership Development Hewlett Packard Corporation, Denis Gianoutsos, talks to Interface Financial on how to hold, and sway, your boardroom, your audience or your boss.

Gianoutsos, who recently had a Global CIO for a $5 billion organisation in Texas attribute his success to the coaching and development he received from Gianoutsos, says projecting confidence is absolutely critical for anybody in a leadership position, particularly when you need to influence high powered people.

“The most important attribute you can demonstrate during your presentation is confidence. You have to show that you are in control and that you know what you’re talking about, because that will give your audience confidence in you. Don’t leave room for doubt.”

Nerves are a danger signal

If you’re nervous, says Gianoutsos, your focus is all wrong.

“Nerves mean you’re self-conscious, not audience conscious. Stop thinking about yourself and think about your audience; what they need, and how your presentation will be relevant to them.

“Know your material and practise it – two or three or five times; use two or three people you trust for feedback or film it on your phone so you can observe yourself. I see far too many people who have not practised, and they end up waffling, which irritates the audience.

“Don’t beat around the bush. Be practised, be succinct and remember that less, rather than more, projects confidence. For a fifteen to twenty minute presentation, I would not use more than five slides (including your intro). Each slide should have a title and three bullet points – that’s it,” he said.

Gianoutsos says that if you are presenting to a senior executive, time is short. Get your point across and tell them what you want, or what you are looking for from them.

“Know who the decision maker is in the room and ensure that you work with them as well, not just the person running the meeting.”

Start with the end in mind

It is also important to prepare your presentation with the end in mind.

“Do you want a decision? Make sure your presentation provides enough support for that decision, and then ask for the decision – be clear and succinct. If you want to get a point across, to emphasise something important, stop moving and plant your feet. Stop walking, stop moving and pause… make it a meaningful pause,” Gianoutsos says.

Five bonus tips to take your presentation skills to the next level

  1. Stand up: Never be seated, not even for a boardroom presentation, because standing adds presence, power and confidence.
  2. Involve your audience: Make eye contact with people. Invite questions. Reference something that may have been said earlier, before or during the meeting.
  3. Go to Toastmasters so you can learn structure. The practise will give you confidence and help your career and your sales.
  4. Go to acting classes to learn how to project your voice and how to control a room.
  5. Take dancing lessons. Dancing teaches you how to navigate a room, and improves posture because it works your core.

Former Global Delivery Lead for Executive & Leadership Development Hewlett Packard Corporation, Denis Gianoutsos, is today an executive coach and the CEO of Leading Change Partners, an executive coaching and leadership training organisation based in New Zealand but operating worldwide.

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