Somewhere in your organization someone will give a presentation today. It may be you, the person in the next office, or someone who works in another department. Even if you work solo, there are times when you will be the presenter.
Few would argue that being able to present effectively – whether you’re presenting to two or two thousand – is an important skill. And since it is such a commonly-needed skill, there is plenty of advice available to you – books, courses, websites, tools, techniques, as well as the advice of so many others who “just want to help.”
Yet with all this advice, a large percentage of presentations still aren’t very effective. In fact, many are downright awful; not providing the desired responses from the audience – or any response at all. (Wouldn’t you agree?)
The advice in this article will be a little different.
Rather than sharing the common wisdom with you – which must not be working very well if so many presentations are still so poor – I will share some uncommon advice. Think about it this way – if you try some uncommon advice, you might get uncommon results. Given the overall record of the common presentation, that will likely be very good!
More visuals, less words. Your PowerPoint presentation has too many words, on every slide (and there are probably way too many slides too – but that’s another article). Visual aids should be visual. Start replacing the words on your slides with images. And not just pie charts and line graphs, but pictures and images that help tell your story.
More emotion, less logic. It takes more than logic to move people. Give your audience the facts they need, but don’t overload them. Make sure you speak to the emotional part of people as well. Talk about why, and not just how.
More stories, less “facts”. We read books, watch TV and buy movie tickets because we love stories. When you create stories around your presentation or include relevant and passionate stories as a part of your presentation, you will be more successful.
More focus, less scatter. If you can’t put the key concepts and ideas of your talk on the back of an envelope or on one side of a 3×5 card, your message is too scattered. Hone in on your key message; know exactly what it is. If you don’t know it, how can you expect your audience to know (or remember) it?
More preparation, less “I’ll wing it”. Giving an effective presentation takes preparation and planning time. Too many people give poor presentations because they simply rely on their slides and muddle through. If you want to be a more powerful presenter, you must be prepared.
More belief, less bluster. Let your passion for your topic, your message and your recommendations show! If you believe in your message, let people know that through your words, actions, body language, energy and more.
More audience, less you. Hopefully you aren’t giving your presentation for your benefit, but for your audience’s. So, focus more on them. Worry less about how you look or sound and more about helping them understand your message. If your focus is all about you, stop reading – none of these points will help you. A presentation should always be about the audience.
More you, less façade. No, this isn’t in conflict with the last point; you will be a more effective presenter when you are real, genuine and sincere. Drop the posturing and be real. Your audience will appreciate it, and they will listen and trust you more.
You’ve just read eight pieces of uncommon advice. But reading them isn’t enough. You need to apply at least one of them to your next presentation. When you do, you will be more confident and will achieve more of the results you desire. You will have an audience that has heard and understood your words and takes action because of the presentation.
Potential Pointer: If we want to better at anything – including presentations – sometimes we need to do things differently than everyone else. Following the crowd will, at the very best, allow you to only be incrementally better. Taking a different approach can lead to breakthrough success.