GIVE A PRESENTATION
By Emma Bannister, Founder and CEO of Presentation Studio
without a meltdown
Let’s face it. Most business presentations miss a massive opportunity. Hours, days, even weeks are wasted crafting lacklustre PowerPoints that once executed and delivered are largely forgotten the moment everyone leaves the room. My vision is simple: to change the world for the better, one presentation at a time. Remember, a presentation can be your most influential business tool, no matter the forum or audience, so it’s worth investing your time and energy to get it right every time. How do you create a presentation that people will walk away from remembering and wanting more? These are my top six tips:
Know your why. What is the primary purpose of your presentation? Are you trying to educate, sell, share results or spread ideas? We define a successful presentation as one that achieves its objectives, something that is often overlooked by the speaker when starting.
Define what problem you’re solving for the audience and use the end of the presentation to state what you want the audience to do. Ensure you understand and address the needs of your audience. Ken Haemer, AT&T’s former presentation research manager, said, “Writing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter addressed To Whom It May Concern!” You need to paint a picture of them, their biases, needs and concerns.
What is the one thing you want your audience to walk away with? According to cognitive neuroscientist Dr Carmen Simon, audiences remember less than 10 per cent of presentations. To help them remember the bits you want, use personal stories to relate and emphasise your message throughout your presentation to help it stick.
If it’s a report, you need supporting information; treat the layout like a magazine that people read in their own time. Highlight important features like quotes and data. If it’s a presentation, strip out the content. People are coming to hear from you and the slides need to be visual and support what you’re saying. You are there to bring something more to the presentation – not narrate from the screen. Make it interesting and informative in a personal way.
Data visualisation gives your audience the ability to see things differently and the intelligence to understand. Do the hard work for them and visualise the key insight, don’t display a complex graph and expect them to understand what the data is saying. Many clients think they need to share all their research on their slides (we call it the ‘curse of knowledge’). Our job is to shift this ‘old school’ culture and encourage them to save the detail for reports. Don’t be restricted to the ‘perfect number of slides for a presentation’. There is no such thing. I have given short presentations with over a hundred slides. The important thing is that your visual matches what you are saying and the font is large enough to read (minimum 30 points). Keep animations simple and use them when it makes sense to introduce some information for the benefit of your audience, not just because it looks pretty.
Being prepared reduces nerves and anxiety on the day. Practise out loud, not just in your head, and always come in under time to allow for questions. presentationstudio.com