I attend a lot of talks, conferences and business networking events and dread to think how many presentations I have listened to in my career. To be honest only a fraction ever generated interest due to the poor presentation skills on display. This article is not about presentation skills themselves but just about content, the “what you say?” Rather than “How you say it?” I will also look at what type of media to use.
Too many presentations are littered with recycled and glib company sound bites or quotations from great philosophers of the past. My message to you is this, if you want to stand out from the crowd and impress people then give us original content.
If you want to use quotations then use contemporary not historical ones and also be prepared to use quotations from less well known people. If the quote is good it will resonate with your audience.
The art of storytelling
We have heard a lot in recent years about the lost art of storytelling and there is a resurgence of this skill as it has been proved to be one of the most effective ways of communicating. The parable has once again become an accepted learning media. For example in 2006 John Kotter published “Our Iceberg Is Melting” (A simple fable with profound lessons for working and living in an ever changing world). The book is set amongst the backdrop of a colony of penguins that are faced with an uncertain future.
So here are some top tips for CONTENT in your presentation:
The whole presentation must tell a story and that story can be:
- About you and your experience
- A colleague and their experience
- A contemporary or historical figure
- A fable that draws analogy to what you want to get across
- An event in recent or past history
- A client story or case study
Use pictures to highlight the story:
- Rather than Powerpoint use laminated pictures that you can hold up (obviously if it is a very large venue you may have to use Powerpoint)
- Don’t use obvious pictures that people will have seen before, search Google images or better still take your own (if competent and they look great)
- Where possible use video clips of appropriate content
Practice and get feedback
Whatever you decide to talk about, prepare the content well and practise with an appropriate audience well ahead of the actual talk. Encourage feedback both good and poor and be prepared to adapt accordingly. Don’t just seek presentation ‘style’ feedback, it’s the content you have to get right first, then you can focus on presentation style afterwards.
When it comes to your presentation content you can sanity check your ideas using the same SMART acronym that we use for coaching and goal setting;
S – Specific: What exactly is the message I want people to take away from the presentation?
M – Measurable: How will I measure the effectiveness of my presentation?
A – Attainable: Is it possible to get this message across in this way?
R – Relevant: Is my presentation really appropriate for this audience?
T – Timed: Can I get my message across effectively with the time I have available?
Well that’s it for now! Do let me know if that was useful – leave me a comment with your thoughts.
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