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Here are the five killer tips to take your presentations to the next level. These tips represent four years of trial and error that can be easily absorbed in five minutes or less

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General managers of major-league baseball teams meet to gauge other's interest in their players while perusing the list of available free agents looking to add key personnel to their teams. While my hometown team, the Toronto Blue Jays, hold the distinction of MLB's longest playoff drought, which is brutal, the Chicago Cubs are looking to end a streak of 107 years without winning a World Series. So how do you reverse a century of failure?

The Cubs are looking to utilize non-traditional approaches to gain the upper hand in attracting free agents. Rather than just pitch to a player's agent, the Cubs committed to going above and beyond with a high production video presentation to lure the cream of this year's crop. Do you think the Cubs are using a presentation put together by someone's nephew? Nope, they've put a ton of work into it and expect to get a lot out of it.

I write and speak often about presenting. The reason is because presenting is so engrained in everything we do in life. Sales, marketing, customer service and of course leadership all require advanced presentation skills in order to win. My team and I are constantly presenting to each other, important prospective clients, distributors, media partners and our Board of Directors. At the same time, I love it when I'm on the other side of the table and being presented to. My team will put their blood, sweat and tears into ensuring a presentation is perfect and I hold them to an insanely high standard (with the proper direction and mentorship of course). This is why I'm so turned off by bad presentations!

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A few months ago, a world famous firm came to pitch me on their services. Their presentation sucked and they made no apologies about it. They broke several easy-to-follow rules and quickly helped me to make up my mind about not soliciting their services.

The apex of presentations at Roma Moulding is our three times a year All Hands Meetings (AHM). If you think presenting in a boardroom is tough, try pitching to dozens of stakeholders in-person, with hundreds more including your competition, watching online. To say the stakes are high is an understatement.

Here are the five killer tips to take your presentations to the next level. These tips represent four years of trial and error that can be easily absorbed in five minutes or less.

1. Formulate a team. It doesn't matter if your presentation will be seen by many or just a few, bring others into the fold to add perspective, accuracy and ideas you simply didn't think of.

  • Mastermind with key presenters and stakeholders.
  • Share the stage with presenters who are passionate.
  • Speak of relevant and current issues at hand.
  • Plan. After than plan some more and then some more.

2. Create a storyline. Stories are the original presentations and in the past the best presenters were simply the best storytellers.

  • Lead people through a story.
  • Keep it fun and interesting.
  • Share a vision and describe the future so people can see it.

3. Be authentic. Remember the midterm elections? I'm sure you can recall some of the conciliatory speeches that were given. Most of them stunk because the candidate had checked out. Keep it real even when delivering less-than-stellar news.

  • Don’t try to be someone or something you’re not.
  • Don’t read notes or slides. It comes across as not coming from your heart.
  • Share information that is important to your audience.

4. Timing is key. I love TED talks, partly because they have an amazing formula to engage you and to keep your attention. TED talks are typically 18 minutes. Wondering why? Check out this article.

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5. Practice, practice, practice. In my opinion, the above four points above make up 50 per cent of what you need to do. Practice is the other 50 per cent. We block off four solid days to practice our All Hands Meetings to ensure that every slide, every musical queue and every transition goes flawlessly.

  • Rehearse and rehearse some more.
  • Have a clear and refined message.
  • Make it easy for the audience to digest.

If you think I'm overstating the importance of practice check out what our good friend Carmine Gallo wrote in his book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Gallo shares that, "for two full days before a presentation, Jobs will practice the entire presentation, asking for feedback from product managers in the room. For 48 hours, all of his energy is directed at making the presentation the perfect embodiment of Apple's messages."

We've still got a long way to go and this simply represents what I've learned thus far. Check back in a year and I'll have some more tips but for now, if I can help save the world from some boring presentations, I'll be a happy man.

A version of this column previous appeared on RomaMoulding.com.

Tony Gareri is the CEO of Roma Moulding, the world's second largest picture framing manufacturer with offices in Toronto (Woodbridge), Atlanta, New Jersey, and Los Angeles. He is also a master designer, renowned culture enthusiast, public speaker and other.

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