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Be Like Secret Santa: How It Makes Presentations Worthwhile

“We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give,” — Winston Churchill.

People celebrate success and achieve happiness when good results come their way. However, one can’t achieve great outcomes without exerting any effort. Don’t just focus on yourself while climbing up your own career ladder. After all, most businesses aren’t run by just a single person – they’re built up of several people. You can’t sell something without having someone to sell to, either. That’s why if you want to help yourself, you should also reach out to others.

It’s a great time to do this, especially since the Christmas season is just around the corner. So if you have this major presentation to deliver, why not embrace this season of giving and sharing? Share helpful insights with your audience, and you’ll get undivided attention in return.

Here’s how to be like a secret Santa and make your business pitch worthwhile not just for yourself, but for others.

1. Stick to the Limit


In the context of gift-giving, you can’t buy something random for that person you drew out of the hat. You have to pick an item that can be used by anyone of any gender, without exceeding the maximum budget allotted. Similar to the limits imposed on what kind of gift you can give, making a presentation also comes with its own list of things to consider. It’s tempting to go over the maximum number of PowerPoint slides that you’re allowed to use, especially if you’re struggling to convey your message effectively with less content.

Going over the limit might give you more room to explain your point, but keeping it concise makes it easier for the audience to remember what you said. Likewise, overly-designed visuals in your slides can distract the audience, not only taking their eyes away from your deck, but making them lose their interest in you as well. Sometimes, it’s not about the quantity of your offering, but the quality of your gift. Make your presentation design simple yet interesting to engage and entice them with your speech.

2. Find Out What They Like


Finding the perfect Christmas gift can be both exciting and challenging, just like when you’re pitching a business proposal. The greatest challenge is presenting something that meets your client’s expectations and interests. You have to observe how people act so that you can map out a great strategy. This applies before, during, and after your presentation. Don’t forget to take a real glance at your audience while you’re speaking. Do they look engaged, or are they checking their wristwatches or cellphones instead?

You can try segueing with a somewhat related topic in order to regain their attention, but make sure it’s connected to your message. Otherwise, your audience will think that you’re giving them random information, just so you can say that you offered something, even if it’s knowledge that the audience can’t use.

As a presenter, you also need to watch for what signals they’re sending in. Their expressions are big hints as to how they’re receiving your presentation. Is your audience smiling at you or are they giving you a neutral face? If it’s the former, keep going. If it’s the latter, it’s time to re-evaluate your tactics – and quick.

For example, if business jokes don’t seem to work on them, then you should probably go for something serious. Once you’ve picked up on their visual clues, re-align your thoughts and switch to another style of delivery to recapture their interest.

3. Get Creative with Your Gifts


Receiving a beautifully wrapped gift can make anyone feel extra special. After all, it brings the holiday spirit to life in that one simple moment. If lovely gift-wrapping adds value to a gift, then all the more reason to wrap your speech with a nice note, too. Instead of talking about your topic dryly, go for a creative approach to not only hook but also inform your audience. For instance, you can include an animated video or a movie clip that sums up your intended message with maximum impact.

If you really can’t think of alternative ways to deliver your message, don’t fret. There are plenty of different avenues you can take: you can include infographics, success stories, and up-to-date news to support your main idea. Of course, sprucing up your deck with eye-catching design and layout will help your audience pay attention to what you’re saying. Make sure to align your colors and elements to your personal branding, and arrange your text and images in a way that clarifies your main points, rather than detract from them.

Wrapping It Up


Presentations are similar to Christmas cringles and gift exchanges. You need to put in more effort to make your audience value the gift you’re sharing: the gift of information. Follow the basics, and don’t go overboard. If they set a limit to the kind of gift you can give, then stay within those limits. This not only saves you time, but keeps you from straying from your main topic, giving your audience a meaty presentation instead of one filled with irrelevant information.

Be a good observer, not just someone dispensing information, but someone who takes in available information as well. Things may not go the way you planned them to, so it’s crucial to adapt in case you notice the crowd starting to doze off. Watch out for visual clues about your listeners’ interest levels and adjust according to the situation. Finally, unleash your creative side. Think of other ways to effectively convey your message. Anybody can stand in front of a crowd and start talking about straight facts, but only those who prepare well for it can relay their messages in compelling and convincing ways.

Adopt a secret Santa approach and you’ll bring joy to everybody in your audience. By sincerely giving what meaningful knowledge you have to others, you’re sure to receive sales and numerous successes in return.



Dabbah, Mariela. “Secret Santa:  7 Golden Rules for Giving.” Mamiverse. September 12, 2011. Accessed November 17, 2015.

Beating the Red Light: Organizing a Last-Minute Presentation

While it isn’t advisable to put things off to the last minute, there are some instances where you have to cram for a presentation. Sometimes you’re given limited time to prepare. Maybe your host suddenly asked you to give a brief speech on a related topic. Or maybe you lost track of your schedule and forgot about an upcoming event.

In such cases, you have to manage your preparation wisely. You shouldn’t let your audience know that you had less time to plan. It’s still possible to pull together a comprehensive, engaging, and meaningful presentation in just a few hours.

Learn How to Improvise

Writing down notes is an effective way to organize your thoughts. But even with notes written down, don’t be afraid to forget about your script. Or rather, don’t stick to it word for word.

A common misconception about presentation drafts is that they can save you when you come in ill-prepared. It’s similar to the idea that your slides will provide a safety net for when your speech gets boring. In truth, neither your script nor your PowerPoint should act as a replacement for you. If you don’t have enough time to rehearse, it’s okay to improvise.

Being too absorbed with a memorized script or worse, blatantly reading from your slides and notes, only makes you seem stiff and uninteresting. This also restrains your use of body language, which is an important tool in connecting with your listeners. Pairing up your speech with eye contact and hand gestures is necessary for creating a lasting impression.

People feel more relaxed in front of a speaker who uses the conversational tone, rather than one who is monotonous.

Avoid Rambling

However, don’t go to the other extreme. Rambling is just as bad as losing yourself in a script. You misplace your core message and confuse your audience in the process. Going off on a tangent for too long can also give away your nervousness. Put yourself at ease to assure your listeners that you know what you’re doing.

No one wants to listen to someone who appears clueless about the content of their presentation. As much as possible, keep your points related to what you originally wanted to say. It’s best to keep the gist of your speech in mind and improvise every now and then.

Last-minute Rituals

When you’re finally on the final countdown to your presentation, it’s good to calm your nerves down. This keeps you from being fixated on your script and rambling too much while speaking. Coming up on stage to present for something you had less time to prepare for can be a major cause for anxiety. But you shouldn’t let it get to you.

According to public speaking coach and Well Said, Inc. president, Darlene Price, there are a few small things you can do to relieve this anxiety 15 minutes before your time. In its feature of Price’s book, Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results, Business Insider gives a run-down of pre-presentation rituals like going to the restroom and focusing on positive thoughts. You can also check out your venue and interact with your audience before you speak.

Getting to know the environment and the people you are presenting to will let you see things in perspective. Situations appear more daunting when you let them mess with your head.


Contrary to what you might think, an audience can’t see through you as you speak. If a presentation is coherent and well-executed, people will appreciate it despite the time constraint. Stay calm and avoid using your notes or your PowerPoint as a crutch if you lack preparation.

At the same time, don’t distract your audience by rambling through your entire presentation. Substance is just as important as delivery. Although you can create a presentation under pressure, it’s always good to allot enough time for proper planning. Even for veteran presenters, procrastination and cramming can lead to disastrous results.

Having trouble organizing a last-minute presentation? Consult with our PowerPoint experts today and get a free quote!



Smith, Jacquelyn. “10 Things You Should Do In The 15 Minutes Before A Big Presentation.” Business Insider. May 2, 2014. Accessed October 8, 2015.

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