How to Give a Great Presentation: 3 Tips to Get Your Point Across

» Posted by on Sep 27, 2012 in Business Strategy, Marketing | 0 comments

How to Give a Great Presentation: 3 Tips to Get Your Point Across

by Harry McNabb

Let’s face it, we all give and listen to presentations, and we all sometimes dread giving and listening to presentations.  If I live to be 100, I will never forget the statistic I learned in a public speaking course: most people dread public speaking more than they fear death and dismemberment.  Since webinars or presentations to clients, venture capitalists, or internal staff are often your one shot to present your ideas, you need to be sure you are communicating effectively.

 Here are three things to think about when creating a presentation:

Are you delivering the right message to the right audience? 

Create your presentation to speak your audience’s language: sales to the salespeople, investment to the venture capitalists, technology to the developers, and risk management to the legal team.  Figure out what your audience is worried about.  Put yourself in their shoes, to the degree that you can.  What are their day to day challenges and what are they really hoping to get?

By thinking about your audience and speaking in a way that relates to them you have a much better shot that they will listen to what you have to say. Really great presentations not only relate to their audience in the business sense, but also in a broader sense of common life events.  With a little thought, you can weave in these common experiences in such a way that will allow your audience to relate. Here are some examples: who has never been stuck in traffic, had a frustrating day, or a poor customer service experience?   Found that a dreaded event was not as painful as anticipated?  Been in or out of a relationship? I have an old sports car that I sometimes take out for a drive, and people constantly stop me to tell me their old car stories  (my daughter tells me that old cars are really just daddy’s Polly pockets- something every little girl can talk about.)  When you engage people in a shared experience, you get their attention.

Are you telling the audience what is in it for them, or what is in it for you? 

This is a problem with presentations that we see all time: the presenter is overly focused on their own point of view. Let’s say you are speaking to an audience of people that you want to be early stage clients.   Ask yourself: are you speaking about what your company will gain or what their companies will gain from the transaction?  An early stage client may be absorbing more risk – what will they get in return?  Will they have more and better access to your development and design team?  More specialized support?  Special pricing?  Your focus needs to be on the benefits to the audience.

My wife and I just experienced a failure on this point when we went to non-profit dinner and were told how great it would be and how helpful if we all volunteered and worked really hard to do all of things that the presenters didn’t have time to do.  The presenters proudly showed their plans for expansion and the long list of things of things that they needed help with.  It was very clear what was in it for them, but less so regarding what might benefit the audience.  Even mentioning the fact that helping might make the audience feel good about themselves, teach a lesson to their kids, or be a part of something outside of themselves would have given them a better chance to strike a chord and get people to sign up.  (As we sidled out the door with the rest of the crowd, the optimistically placed sign- up sheets were still blank.)

Don’t create slides that speak without you there.

Don’t type your speech into your slides.  Write your text and then choose images or graphics that illustrate your point in a memorable way.  This is a hard one – we often have difficulty convincing clients of this.  But a presentation of wordy slides is just not that interesting; at best, the audience reads the slides while losing touch with the speaker.  The best speakers are those that create an image in your head while they fill in the details with their words.

A year ago, I attended a large social media conference.  During the conference, I saw at least six major presentations.  There are two ways to get an audience member to remember you: be really good, or be really bad.  Ask yourself, what presentations have you seen that you would remember a year later?

Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki, speaking to promote his new book “Enchantment” stands out as one of the greats.  His images were so funny and compelling that they trigger the memory of the point that he was making a full year later.  Chip Sansome, the author of “Switch” also had a great presentation.  His concept that you tap into the emotion of your audience to engage change in an organization was illustrated by an elephant (the emotion) with a small boy driving it (the change instigator, who can steer the elephant but not overpower it.)  Got it.

A speaker that shall remain unnamed, but who is a well-known industry voice, came to the podium with little thought, no good presentation, and apparently no clear idea of what he was going to say. Effort, or the lack of it, is pretty obvious to your audience: I unsubscribed from him the next day and took a pass on his next book.

Good luck!  Just remember: death and dismemberment really is more frightening than giving a presentation.

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