How many times have you presented to an audience who have sat through your presentation scrolling through their iPhone, bored out of their brain, completely disengaged?
Most of us, especially managers, are time poor. So we dig up old presentations and update dates and numbers, rather than taking a step back and thinking about what we are trying to achieve at the end of the presentation.
The result? Presentation slides that are text heavy, dense, confusing, distracting and misleading.
Our most important and urgent messages stay trapped; hidden behind seriously bad-designed slides and long complex paragraphs of information. These messages could have made a difference in the world – secured buy-in from your team on a new vision or built awareness around a new product – but they go unheard, unseen, and not understood.
Finding time to research, write, design and rehearse is a constant challenge. But you must invest the time and energy into planning a powerful presentation if you want your audience to invest their time and energy in you. Here’s how.
1. Identify your objective
Are you trying to educate your audience, sell them an idea or communicate the latest results or strategy? It is incredible how many presenters cannot clearly articulate their reason for presenting – what they want their audience to do or feel after watching their presentation. When you have a clear objective then you can measure the success of your presentation. Why are you there and, just as importantly, what’s in it for your audience?
2. Pick one key message
Only 10% of presentation is likely to be remembered. So when it comes content, it’s vital to have clarity around your main message, a sound bite that gets repeated again and again.
Ask yourself: What is the one thing you want your audience to remember when the lights go down? Think of it as a bumper sticker message that you repeat throughout the presentation to ensure your audience remembers why they are there and what the key take-home message is.
3. Connect through emotion
There is no more B2B or B2C in today’s communication landscape. All this has done is create unnatural, overcomplicated messages and solutions. What the world needs today, what your customers, clients and stakeholders are crying out for is H2H – from human to human, a natural connection through compelling visuals and emotional stories. Our decisions – whether we buy or buy-in to something – are influenced by our emotions. So make your audience feel something. Use images to create sadness, excitement, inspiration or even anger if it’s appropriate to your cause.
4. Use visuals to support your words
Your slides are there to support what you are saying as a speaker – they are not a teleprompt.
Your visuals are aids to help your audience understand what you are saying. Use icons to summarise main points and infographics to show key bits of data. This is how you make the material useful, easy to read and understand, as well as provide clear actionable insights that add value and impact for shareholders and stakeholders.
5. Cut the cr@p
What gets left out of your presentation is more important than what goes in.
Cut out all the clutter from your presentation to present clear and consistent messages.
Some companies are clearly better than others at this. Many believe that sharing everything and blinding their audience with numbers, bullet points and information is the best way to be transparent and open – that couldn’t be further from the truth! This will only put the people you are trying to engage off, and make them lose interest faster.
6. Prepare to present
Preparing a presentation also involves preparing to present it. Practice your presentation out loud, not just in your head. This will give you an accurate idea of timing. Let your personality and passion shine, give the audience more than a report. Don’t try and memorise the script. Be prepared to deliver on the spot with no speaker notes, just a clear consistent message and idea of what you want your audience to do at the end.
Emma Bannister is passionate about presenting big, bold and beautiful ideas. She is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio, APAC’s largest presentation communication agency, and author of upcoming book ‘Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations.’
Connect with Emma here.