Make Your Presentation Memorable Audiences typically forget 90% of what they have heard within 1 month! Audience Retention 70% 60% 20 minutes 60% 7 days 50% 1 month 40% 30% 30% 20% 10% 10% 0% 20 minutes 7 days 1 month So you’ve got to do something pretty spectacular to have your message remembered – or do you?Good presenters are created not born!Those with what looks like a natural flair are most often those whoprepare more thoroughly. Steve Jobs is a great example of this. Heprepared so thoroughly he was able to make it seem as though he waspresenting totally off the cuff. In reality he prepared more thoroughlythan most of us could hope to do – the effect – his presentationsappeared totally natural and relaxed.Thorough preparation makes you absolutely confident in what you’regoing to say, howyou’re going to say it and what you want your audience to do as a result.With that level of preparation why wouldn’t any of us look like a “natural”?If we prepare like Steve Jobs then we willbe able to focus on communicating with ouraudience – often with non-verbal messages which in turn helps deliver our messages all themore effectively.
For those of us who still hold some fear of standing up and speaking in public there are anumber of techniques that we can use to ensure that our presentation is viewed assuccessful by the audience.The first thing you can do in order to make your presentation successful is to preparethoroughly. It’s like anything in life or business, the better you are prepared the morecapable you are to deal with the unexpected – and the unexpected can and does happen(especially when you least want it to).The most important thing to consider before you do anything else is what action / change /decision do you want the audience to make as a result of the presentation. Are you tryingto educate, inform or entertain them? When you know this everything else is all aboutmaking sure that you get them to reach the same conclusion as you and go along with yoursuggestion / call to action.Next consider who the audience are – are they experts in the subject, do they know verylittle, or are they somewhere in between or a mix of all three?You have most likely been asked to deliver this presentation (or section) because you are anexpert in the subject matter. This is always a good starting point, and in itself should give yousome confidence. But, it is critical to research much further into the subject, so that youbuild up a reasoned and credible case. You will most likely end up with much more materialthan you will ultimately use – this additional information could be vital for the question &answer session that inevitably follows.Once you have gathered all of the information you may require you can now start preparingthe actual presentation. There are three distinct stages –the structure (the overall shape),the content (the detail), and the delivery (how you communicate). Let’s take each section inturn to see what is required each step of the way. Structure: Plan the “story” you want to tell, bearing in mind who your audience are and what action / changes you want them to make as a result of your presentation. Always have an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. To be effective communication needs to have some repetition – so that the audience has more than one opportunity to hear your message. (Work on the basis of tell em what you’re going to tell em, tell em, and then tell em what you’ve told em).The IntroductionIn the introduction tell them why it’s in their interest to listen and act on the presentation(these are benefits – the what’s in it for them). Be concise here and grab their attention –some significant statistic or fact to grab their attention is good. Equally something thatchallenges what they think they know should also get their attention!
Also in the introduction let them know how long your presentation will last for, so they canscope this in their mind. There is nothing worse than not knowing how long something isgoing to last for – at the very least it’s very distracting - and you telling them is also a sign ofprofessionalism in that you know.This in itself gives you some credibility straight away.Don’t tell them your life and career history – quite frankly they don’t care about you – it’s thewhat’s in it for them that they want to know. If you want to give them some info on yourselfhave the person whointroduces you give 30-45 seconds absolute max. on your credentials /expertise / experience – but nothing else.Main BodyAt the start of each main section of the presentation tell them what you’re going to coverthere – keep this to very short bullets, or visuals that represent them is even better. Thendeal with each section in a factual manner – avoid giving them lots of detail (unless this isabsolutely fundamental to the argument) as they will forget most of this anyway.Summary / conclusionWhen you get to the end tell them by saying something obvious like “in conclusion, or tosummarize” then give them 1,2 or 3 – absolutely no more of the strongest arguments you’veused during the body of the presentation and leave them with these. It is these that they willremember.You can refer back to where you started, by saying that I said I was going to tell you x, y, zwell that’s what I’ve done (it should be blindingly obvious).Content.Having worked out a framework for the key messages you are going to communicate andhaving checked that the story flows logically (otherwise re-order it so it does) you can thenstart to flesh out each section.Add detail for each section and think about what you need to bring this to life (evidencesand proofs). These are what you use to substantiate (prove) your argument. Lists of tablesor numbers are not very good ways of showing these, but strong visual representations are.Do you have these already, if not who does and can you get them? Always check if usingmaterial from a colleague that they know how you are going to use their material and double-check that they are accurate.Having fleshed out the structure with your content read it out loud to yourself,, to check thatthe logic still holds and the arguments don’t contradict one another. At this stage it iscommon to have to re-order key points or re-word them in order that they flow bettertogether. Having done this you should also have an idea as to how long the presentation willtake to deliver, and thus how much material you need to take out. [This is the case in 90% ofthe clients we work with!]Avoid too much detail for several reasons. Firstly, it may trip you up when you arepresenting. Secondly, the audience probably won’t be able to either absorb all the detail orremember it. Thirdly, it distracts from the core messages that you absolutely want them toremember. LESS IS MORE is the golden rule!
Delivery.People will remember more about how you said somethingthan the actual words that you spoke so it is crucial that yourdelivery is the best it can be. Once again there aretechniques that you can use in order to increase the focus ofthe audience and thus increase how much of what you saythey remember.By this stage if you’ve done everything above you should bequietly confident that you know what you’re going to betalking about which gives you confidence and so you canrelax and enjoy the experience. I accept that “enjoy” may not be the first thought in yourmind, but if you can convince yourself that you might enjoy the experience then thelikelihood is that you will.The brain sees things like this as a self-fulfillingprophecy, and whatever you think will bethe outcome is more than likely how it will turn out – so tell yourself you ARE going toenjoy it as you’ve worked very hard to prepare thoroughly.Remember, you are going to tell them something that it is in their interest to hear, and thatthey will benefit from your presentation.The audience wants you to succeed, for them there is nothing worse than listening to apresenter die on their feet – it’s embarrassing. They would rather you succeed; it makes theirlife so much easier!The single most important thing to be is enthusiastic– how can you expect to carry anaudience with you if you are not displaying energy and passion for the subject. This doesn’tmean you have to try to become something you’re not, because the audience will see you asphoney if you do. It means taking your natural style, and adding authority and presencethrough your tone and manner (body language).The trick is to engage with the audience early – in the first 60 seconds preferably – getthem on your side and keep them there. This is where your pithy (what’s in it for youstatement / comment / challenge) comes in. It must be something that captures theirimagination, is credible and offers them hope.Another part of engaging with them is to remove barriers – get out from behind the lecternor desk. This means you can move around more, which in turn means you can have moreeye contact, use body language to maximum effect and make it easier for the audience tofocus on you. Your slides or props are just that – there to support you, not the other wayaround.When speaking to a massed audience it is very important to use you voice carefully. Youneed to ensure that your voice can be heard at the back of the auditorium (sound getsmuffled when a room is full of people).Equally you need to talk more slowly than you would in everyday speech. This is to allowpeople time to absorb and think about what you have said.
Use pauses often. They allow people to absorb what you’ve said. Pause after sayinganything especially important – this not only allows the audience time to absorb and considerwhat you’ve said but the pause itself tells them that what you just said is something theyshould pay particular attention to – and they will – if you give them the opportunity. Whilstpaused make strong eye contact with as many people as possible – let them acknowledgeyour eye contact, then move on to more of the audience – this is very powerful!As this is the single most important section of the preparation and the amount of time youinvest here will be re-paid ten-fold. You need to rehearse the presentation from end to endat least 4-6 times, more if you can! Why, well, once you have done it this many times youwill know the material so well that you will be less reliant on your notes and also need tothink less about what you say and more about how you say it.Make the rehearsal as realistic as possible – deliver the presentation in front of friends orfamily or look at yourself in a mirror(yes it will feel embarrassing, but you can iron out whatsounds good and what doesn’t and change phrases that don’t sound quite right). You willalso see those idiosyncrasies that you have – hands in pocket, going “um” a lot, shuffling orpacing and you can then work on reducing them – I didn’t say getting rid of them altogether,just get them under control.Once you’ve done the presentation in front of friend, family or a mirror doing it in front of alive audience is relatively straightforward – honestly!In ConclusionWe can all present well if we make sure we follow afew basic principles. 1. Be clear what it is you want the audience to do as a result of listening to you. Make sure you tell them what your purpose is early on. 2. Provide appropriate detail, in the form of evidences and proofs, to convince them that this course of action is to their advantage. 3. Engage with the audience. Make a personal connection with them, no matter how numerous they are.Most important of all is to rehearse the presentation sufficiently so that you know thematerial so well you can concentrate on how you engage the audience, and are not justthinking about what you have to say. How many rehearsals this is depends on you, but theacknowledged industry thinking is that this will be between 5-8 times for the first time youpresent the material and 3-5 thereafter.
The Presentation MaterialsPowerPoint is the most commonly used tool, and whilst it gets a lot of bad press “death byPowerPoint” this says more about the how presenters use it not the tool itself.There are many things that you can do to make PowerPoint work for you, some of the moreobvious ones are:Don’t use bullets– they are dull. If you do use them do NOT read them out – this is an insultto the audience – they don’t need you if they can just read everything from the screen!Keep slides plain– backgrounds that are too fussy will distract the audience. If you want touse a coloured background, chose pastel colours, something that compliments the subjectmatter – if you are talking finance don’t go with bright pink for example.Contrast background - to the text and ensure that both are suitable for the lighting in theroom where the presentation is to be delivered.Use clear fonts - make them large enough to be read – from the back of the auditoriumSlide transitions– Keep these simple. Do not use animation to “fly in” or the like, have thetext / visuals come up either all at the same time, or on your click – whichever suits bestMinimum number of slides– Too many slides and the audience will be focused on themand not you. Only use slides to add extra value to what you are saying, they support you, notthe other way round.Do not keep turning around to look at the slides– the audience does not want to see theback of your head. If you want to know what’s on the screen position a pc in front of you –whatever you see there is what the audience can see. You can half turn to point tosomething on the slide, but do so as infrequently as possible and always face the front whenspeaking At the Bid Coach are experts in training your teams to win. Contact Hugh at: firstname.lastname@example.org or via www.thebidcoach.com