From a public relations (PR) standpoint, the opportunity to make a presentation to a group is a goldmine. These opportunities allow you to be seen as a thought leader and an expert in your industry. It’s also a great means of kick starting, conducting and stimulating new business development. Presenting to a group is more than simply showing up and turning on the switch to start your presentation. In my experience there are some simple steps to ensure your maximizing your presentation opportunity. I’ve listed six easy steps to consider as you prepare to make a presentation. \tStart preparing your presentation early: People know when you’re unprepared or are trying to wing it. Take the time before your presentation to write a script of what you want to say. Practice it in advance so that when you get up in front of a group and nerves kick in, you can rely on muscle memory to get you started until your nerves settle down and you get comfortable. \tBe on time: In fact, more important than being on time is arriving early. I always like to get to an event early so I can orient myself with the venue and be comfortable with my surroundings. I like to know where things are and test things out to make sure they’re working properly and that I know how to operate any technology or gadgets I may use during the presentations. For example, if I’m showing a PowerPoint presentation or showing a video I make sure I’m there early enough to set up and plug in my computer and test the PowerPoint or video. \tBe prepared: This sounds simple, but make sure you have the equipment and materials you’ll need to make your presentation and focus on your message. This includes power chords, handouts, if necessary, and videos. Also, if you use a Mac make sure you have the proper dongles to connect to the proper audiovisual equipment. I recommend having your presentation on a thumb drive in the event your computer doesn’t work or connect properly to the equipment onsite. Also, e-mail your presentation in advance to the event organizers. There is nothing worse than showing up and not being prepared when the time comes to start your presentation. \tHave a point or focus for your presentation: Share successful case studies to illustrate your point and focus on client success as opposed to bragging about how great you are. If a client is in the audience, point them out and share what they’re doing well or how you’re team is working with them to achieve success. As a PR pro, I would focus on a series of PR tips or advice the audience can walk away with, implement themselves or kick start their PR activities. \tDon’t agree to speak or present on a topic you’re not qualified to: It’s always exciting to speak or present to a group of people. However, don’t let your eagerness or excitement to present get in the way or allow you to agree to talk about a subject you’re not qualified to speak on. People will recognize this and you’ll lose credibility quickly. Word spreads and the harm or fallout that follows is far worse than the benefits of pulling off a hoax. \tDon’t be overly self promoting: It’s a turnoff. You’ve been chosen to present for a reason, usually because you’re an expert in your field or have a specific set of expertise to share. Share that expertise, but don’t brag about yourself excessively. Focus on how you and your team accomplished great results and highlight customer wins and successes. If you have the opportunity to speak or present to a group it’s a wonderful opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader and an expert in your industry. The tips above will help you maximize the opportunity and leverage the benefits that come from a successful presentation. If you don’t take the opportunity serious enough, or if you spend too much time bragging about yourself and your accomplishments, you run the risk of losing credibility and hurting your reputation, negatively affecting current business as well as future business opportunities.