Here are six key reminders when getting ready for your next presentation:
1. Know Your Audience
- Find out who they are and what kind of perspective they want.
- Remember the rules of Personality Profiling. For example, Headline’s want the big-picture overview; a Bodycopy will want the process and all the detail.
- Spend 1/3 of the preparation time getting the content right, 1/3 getting the style and format right, and 1/3 studying and getting to know your audience.
2. Make Your Content Sing
- Develop a short, clear, one-sentence main message, e.g., “I have a dream.”
- Repeat your main message a number of times during the presentation. Use the exact wording each time. Like the chorus of a song, keep repeating the refrain for retention.
- In addition to data, include analogies, metaphors, examples, and stories. These will dramatically improve message retention.
- Have a strong, memorable opening and closing. Leave the audience with a clear call for action.
3. Think Differently About Format
- Build your talk first, and then add visuals as you need them.
- Think about the story you want to weave. Use boards, props, handouts, or anything to help leave a lasting impression.
- Do not let PowerPoint be the main focus. In fact, do not use PowerPoint. If you use PowerPoint remember the 10/20/30 rule: 10 slides – 20 minutes – 30 point font.
- People are persuaded by and respond to you, not to your slides. Make people be the stars of the show.
4. Practice Your Style
- The way to build style is to practice your presentation in rehearsal. That is, by standing up, moving around, and speaking out loud.
- In rehearsal, exaggerate everything. Use longer pauses, gesture with meaning, move strategically from spot to spot and look ‘em in the eye. Strong, purposeful style feels unnatural and phony, yet looks confident to the audience.
- Keep descriptive gestures up above the belt, and away from the front of your body. This creates a strong look and feeling of confidence.
- Keep nervous ticks out of your presentation, i.e., no hair twirling, no earlobe pulling, no clicking ballpoint pens, and no knuckle cracking.
- Throw back your shoulders and “Let ‘er Rip.” You almost can’t overdo the style, as contrived as it feels.
- A week from now, people will not remember the content of your presentation. However, they will not forget your powerful and confident style.
5. Shake Things Up
- Research studies show that people fade out in meetings and presentations about every 12 to 15 minutes. Sometimes it is less than a 12-15 minute time span, so pay attention to your audience.
- Purposely build in an activity that will “disrupt” the flow of your presentation, every 12 – 15 minutes.
- Remember to vary the presentation format, invite participation, turn off the slides, tell a story, or even use a prop.
6. Make the Q & A Worthwhile
- After asking for questions, wait a few moments. It may take people a while to think of any. If no one asks a question, ask your own: “You know, a question that often comes up when I give these talks is…”
- Repeat questions for clarity. Answer to the whole group so everyone feels included.
- If you don’t know the answer, agree to find out and get back to them.