Question: What can I do to make myself a better presenter at meetings and events?
Answer: Just like the famous Churchill quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Planning and preparation is 90 percent of the challenge in delivering an effective presentation. There are keys to success that you will want to consider. Presentations have objectives; some are to share information, others to teach. Some are to convince your audience of something or take a call to action. The first step is to define the purpose of your presentation and then create a presentation plan.
Know your audience. For your message to be received, retained and acted upon, you have to know to whom you are speaking. If you are presenting to a retired men’s club, you need to know who is in the audience so you can direct your comments to their areas of interest. If you are speaking to the Rotary Club, you need to become familiar with the members, what businesses they represent and the value proposition of the Rotary Club. Age, daily activities, fears, pleasures, pains they experience are all important. You also need to know why they are attending. If it is a client presentation, you need to know the audience as well as you know yourself so you can turn into their needs, wants and desires.
Begin your presentation that captures audience attention. You have about 3 seconds to capture listener attention. How? Darlene Price, of Business Insider, suggests the following: Ask a rhetorical question — “How many of you start every day with a positive thought?” Use a startling statistic that grabs them. “Did you know that nearly 50 percent of small business that experience a disaster don’t reopen since they have no disaster recovery plan?” Tell a story that engages and connects with your shared interests. “I have not failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” Thomas Edison said. Show a fantastic image or a video that grabs their attention and focuses their thinking on what you want to share in your presentation. Or use props that rivet them and focus their attention. Your objective is to create an event in the mind of the audience whether it be captivating stories, images, videos or memorable moments. They need to leave with not only receiving your message, but retaining it so they will do what you want them to do afterward.
Focus. Concentrate your presentation on one BIG idea. Whatever the objective of the presentation FOCUS is the key. In most of our lives we are in “information overload” mode. Concentrate on one strong emotion or one key benefit of your topic, then drill deep so the audience understands and believes the content. This is one time that quality is more important than quantity. When you focus, you can identify and define a common enemy, i.e., time, energy, resources, so you can tap into the audiences emotions. When you make them feel something (happy, excited, amazed, thankful), they can connect with you. Connect with their senses, as well. Create an image in their mind so they experience the sights, smells and tastes related to your topic.
Stick to the rule of 3. To focus your audience’s thinking and get the result you want — understanding, believability, action — concentrate the messages you deliver so they can receive and retain your thoughts. If you develop analogies around each of your three submessages, they will have created hooks that will enhance the memorability of your presentation. Create your presentation plan like a pyramid — one key message and no more than three submessages to support your key thought.
Engage the audience. Whether you ask questions to engage their brains that help the audience draw their own conclusions about the information communicated or use props that allow the audience to become part of the presentation or make it visual by using unique illustrations, or thought-provoking images, humorous videos, metaphors, exciting stories, symbols, or varied techniques, you have to engage the audience not just as a listener, but a participant. If you use numbers, dress them up so you are presenting texture to enhance the value of the numbers. You need to think about keeping it simple to keep the audience engaged. Use simple words, images and ideas. Think of your presentation as a billboard. Three seconds to communicate each message. If the audience is not engaged in receiving your information, they are thinking about something else. You also want to summarize frequently. Remind them of how each segment of your presentation builds upon previous one. Audiences like changes in presentation technique to keep them connected. So if you have a 30-minute presentation — change it up every 10 minutes by using flip charts, video, PowerPoint, handouts, and small-group work. If it is a 10-minute presentation, then change the approach, style and delivery every three minutes. Audiences need to experience a varied approach.
Create a call to action. Tell your audience what you want them to do. Is it to understand, believe, or leave the presentation and take a specific action? Whatever your objective, tell them what you want them to do as a result of listening to you.
Practice, practice, practice. Just as it is important to create a presentation plan, it is critical to practice. No matter how many times you have delivered the message, the audience is different, the situation is different and the focus if different. Practice the intro and the conclusion until it is part of your muscle memory.
— Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, crtified mentor, Sourced from Getlifemaps.com – Presentations & Talks and Darlene Price, Business Insider. For assistance and mentoring in creating great presentations, sales or elevator pitches contact SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands at capecod.score.com, email@example.com or 508-775-4884. Ask us about our more flexible appointment scheduling. We are where you are.