My heart is beating at a rate of knots and my mouth has gone dry. I knew this would happen as it had been a while since I had taken a muster parade for the squadron. It is 1985 and my (legendary) Royal Marines Sergeant Major has asked me to do this mainly because it is the morning of the regiment’s cross country championships and, as the team captain, he wants me to give a motivational talk to get everyone in the right frame of mind. We always win – so no pressure! To prepare myself, I have followed the 7 x P’s which have been drummed into me since I joined the army as a 16-year-old.

I wish I knew then what I know now about presentations.

The 7 x Ps is the first tip in my top twenty I acquired over 35 years from the best speakers I have had the good fortune to listen to and I hope you find them helpful:


  1. The 7 x Ps: Prior Planning & Preparation – Prevents a Pi** Poor Performance
  2. Know your audience – who are you pitching to – this will help you set the right tone.
  3. Try and only present something that you are passionate about
  4. Spend a little time with your audience before your presentation so they can get to know you. Ask them what their main areas of concern they have, on the subject you are delivering, then really listen hard – so you can ensure these are covered.
  5. Rehearse the first sentence or two so it is word perfect and the rest will flow, I promise you.
  6. Look good feed Good…….
  7. ……but don’t over dress or under dress – again know your audience
  8. Think about what media you are going to use – not just one media.
  9. Have a wow factor – something they will remember the presentation for, long after it is finished.
  10. Structure your presentation – tell them what you are going to talk about (the introduction) – Talk about it – then summarise what you have talked about (the summary).
  11. Turn up early (I turn up at least one hour before) so you can meet the host, familiarise yourself with the venue, make sure the electrics and IT work.
  12. Have handouts – something to take away with them (e.g. factsheets on your subject)
  13. Prepare ground rules for the presentation/workshop and tell your audience what they are. As ‘Teams’ can be mute when you are not speaking, put your hand up on the screen (press the button) when you need to ask a question.
  14. Facilities check: if you are face to face then start with fire safety (are there any fire checks today?) where the facilities are.
  15. Share your programme so they know what’s coming and when there will be comfort breaks.
  16. Introductions and, if it is a whole day, do an ice breaker of sorts. If you are on Teams remember to press the participants list so you can work through one at a time, especially if you don’t know them.
  17. Again, with Teams – are you confident with sharing your presentation and other documents? If not practice with a friend
  18. Don’t tell jokes – just be yourself – smile a lot – but don’t fidget when you are talking. (for some reason I rub the top of my head when someone asks me a question)
  19. Check in with your audience that they are getting your message
  20. Thank people for taking the time to listen to you – recognising how busy they are.

Remember: always assume your audience is pleased to see you and hear what you have to say!

I have previously shared this excellent video with colleagues in Thera Group

How To Look Good on Video Calls for Zoom FaceTime:

(it’s is the little things that can give you the edge either during a presentation or an interview)

And finally, here is something my colleague Lesley Downham put together for an e-newsletter I put together during Covid19:

‘How to look good on ‘Teams’

I got through the parade in one piece, delivered my talk successfully  and we won the race! With hindsight, knowing the tips in this post would have made my life a whole lot easier! I made a vow that morning not to leave it so long before I delivered another presentation, because practice does make perfect.

Note: My blog post subjects are often chosen for me by the people I mentor. I was recently asked by two people for my ideas on the best way to deliver a presentation which may be via Teams or Zoom, or face to face, and this piece is the result.


Source Steve Raw