Nov 13 2012
By Sam Cox (@samanthamcox)
Presentation. A single word that makes many people – including even some PR professionals – shudder. Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of assisting Brian Ellis during several client presentation trainings. Brian leads our media, communication and crisis training work at CRT/tanaka, and every time I leave one of his sessions, I feel like I’ve learned just as much as our client has.
So here are 10 tips that I have taken away from these truly eye-opening sessions – all of which will certainly put you on the path to an exceptional presentation.
Before you sit down to create the presentation, stop and take a moment to really think it through. Think about the story you will tell, who your audience is and what you want them to take away. Visualize how you want the presentation to go, and how you’re going to make that happen.
Take the number of minutes you have and divide by two – that’s the maximum number of slides you should have. If you’re delivering an existing presentation, look at each slide and ask yourself, “What is the point of this slide? Do I really need it?” If not, cut it. Keep slide copy to a minimum, otherwise your audience will be reading the screen instead of looking at you.
Are you designing your presentation to play to your team’s strengths? Make sure you are assigning people to deliver the content they know best. Pay close attention to the styles of each presenter and be sure one doesn’t jump out from the other. Try to customize your presentation to your audience’s interests as well.
At the end of the day, your audience will only remember one or two key points, so make sure they stand out. An effective way to do this is to develop a series of elevator speeches covering your primary messages, typically 1-3 sentences that are memorable and quotable. A simple elevator speech with a memorable quote can be a very powerful tool in frequently delivered presentations. Other simple tricks:
In some cases, storytelling can be far more powerful than showing statistics. Find ways to work stories into your presentation to deliver your message. Try to have a story in your back pocket for every key message or important topic.
Whether you’re talking about a product, a service or an idea, what you’re really selling is an experience. For example, instead of listing off a car’s specific features and abilities, talk about how these things will positively affect the customer’s daily life.
Great presentations are like movies, and the secret is good transitions. Most people have a somewhat choppy approach, with a pause between each slide, causing the audience to disengage. Your presentation should feel like a story with a strong open, a compelling middle and a powerful closing – and the transitions are what piece those components together in a compelling fashion.
Remember that YOU are the presentation and the slides are simply a tool. So lose the crutch (note cards, constantly looking at the screen, etc.) – the best presenters know their content and focus on the delivery instead. Because it’s not about what you say, it’s about how you say it. Your audience won’t know what you missed anyway.
An audience is most likely to lose interest within the first two minutes, so engagement should be a primary objective. There are two types of engagement: active (asking someone a direct question, asking the audience to write something down and read it aloud, etc.) and reflective (asking them to compare themselves with the situation in question).
Here’s your chance to cover what you missed during the presentation. If you forgot to mention something, find a way to work it into your responses to their questions. Or say, “That question reminds me of something else I wanted to mention.
Do you have any additional presentation tips? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below. Or, if you are interested in scheduling a presentation training, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images courtesy of: outofdatemoviereviews.wordpress.com; thelanguagelab.ca.