So first, I love communication coach Carmine Gallo’s recent Business Week article that distilled Steve Job’s opening “show” at Macworld into 10 key elements. Let me take a moment to review those 10 elements and point out further ways to expand and incorporate these elements into your presentations:
1. Set the tone
Ever start a presentation with a video clip that loosens up the audience with something funny or grabs their attention with something moving? Have a marketing campaign leading up to the event that helps to set the tone?
2. Demonstrate enthusiasm
The best way to do this is to be yourself. How do you typically show you are enthusiastic about something?
3. Provide an outline
I remember my early days of public speaking – the rigid “here are the three things I am going to talk with you about today” <...content content content...> “to recap, here are the three things I just talked with you about today”. Ok, things aren’t so rigid in the real world. But it is very important to bring home what got them hooked in the beginning.
4. Make numbers meaningful
So another way I have seen, and started my own, presentations is to throw up a bunch of random numbers to have the audience “guess” at what the heck those numbers mean before you explain to them what they are. Make em relevant. Make em interesting. And those numbers will stick in the audience’s heads for a while.
5. Try for an unforgettable moment
Again, video clips, they are wonderful. What about a snippet from a movie? TV Show? YouTube? Also, see “Give ’em a show” below.
6. Create visual slides
This is definitely the hardest elements of them all to get used to. You’re used to bullet point slides, some fun Microsoft clip art and if you’re like an architecture diagram (ICK!). Typically you need others to help you here because you are an “expert” in what you are presenting on, right, not a graphic designer or illustrator. The best coaching I’ve received in this area to date, especially for complex topics to communicate, is to list out all the attributes and ideas you want to communicate – in one slide – and then begin to sketch with a theme how you can relay those ideas and concepts via an image, vs., a bulleted list of stuff (bor-ing).
7. Give ’em a show
Back to videos. They can be great, especially if you are not a great actor but know someone else who can leave an impression. For example, in presenting to a sales team once to try to convince them to “sell things differently”, I decided that I was not going to be the center of the video. Instead, it was going to be one of their leaders that they respected (and who, by the way just happens to be funny). What was the end result? People remembering the red and blue pills I sold them on for months to come.
8. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Remember the bigger reason why you are delivering, and why, people are there to listen to you.
9. Sell the benefit
Why am I sitting here to listen to you for 10, 20, 30, 60, or even, 90 minutes? Sell me often, and sell me up front, on why I am going to give up this time to hear what you have to say. And always end the conversation with a compelling “call to action” – though don’t always close a presentation with “now buy our X” but instead have the audience think about why they need X.
10. Reherse, reherse, reherse
By the way, it is very valuable to have a presentation coach or mentor to help you, especially for conversations that are critical to have with a huge audience.
At the day gig I am very lucky to have a marketing director where one of her responsibilities is coaching us executives on polishing our presentations – from reducing complexity to the flow of the message to the graphics and more.
Lastly, it is good to find and follow presenters you admire so to incorporate their techniques into your delivery. For example, I also work with some amazing senior executives that I observe their presentation often so to incorporate some of what I like of their presentations into my own delivery. Flattery, eh?
If you are a technologist or engineer by education, you are used to, if not love, diving into the detail to explain how something works. But let’s face it, not everyone wants the detail, nor, will they get it like you. You need to simplify and, more importantly, know what your audience wants and focus on delivering to that need.
So where are you in getting ready for your next presentation?
Make it a tidal wave of a presentation! Need help? Drop me a line.