The techniques I’m sharing with you here are based on the idea that your company runs in an informal environment. In this instance, you are trying to achieve a relaxed atmosphere in a presentation to senior management that is more formal, such as the quarterly status or sales update.

The first thing you need to make sure of is that you know exactly what your audience is like. For example, you may have a company that maintains a very informal atmosphere, yet most of your senior management are Producers. This means they will want you to be straightforward and direct and not waste a lot of their time. If you try to create an informal atmosphere by opening with a joke or a silly story to create a great mood, you will leave them thinking that you don’t understand that you’re here to talk business.

Here are my five top tips on what you can do to make it informal while presenting formally:

  1. Make sure you smile before you start presenting. Let everyone know that you’re comfortable being there and that you feel it’s a level playing field.
  2. Make sure you start with relevant facts and information. You might begin with something like, “Today we are here to talk about…” This will let them know that you’re comfortable and what you will be talking about will be succinct and to the point.
  3. Keep your shoulders level or slightly relaxed, and if you’re standing, have your weight evenly distributed between your feet. Make sure your hands are out in front of you, not in your pockets or behind your back.
  4. Make sure that handouts are relevant to the discussion at hand. This means your handouts must add value to the discussion and not be a distraction.
  5. Make sure that you speak like you would over a cup of coffee. Don’t try to impress them with big words. Speak to them directly, in the same convincing manner as you would speak to a friend. This doesn’t mean to lose professionalism—you must remain professional at all times.

A difficult question for presenters is deciding whether to sit or stand for an “informal” formal presentation. The answer is, it depends.

If everyone is sitting around a table, it might make more sense for you to sit down and casually look at each person. This means you make eye contact with each person as you speak, and you rotate your head while you are talking. If you are making an urgent point, or you have something you feel is very compelling, it might make more sense to stand, because your energy might move better when you are able to stand and utilize all aspects of your body language.

In other words, in which position do you appear more relaxed and confident? When you stand or when you sit? If when you sit you tend to shake a leg, play around with a pen, or twiddle your fingers, then by all means stand. On the other hand, if you’re a person who paces or who tends to move rapidly from one side to the other when you are standing, then by all means sit.

The true informality comes through in your tone of voice and the absolute confidence that you convey.

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