In 1993, I launched my first company with the mission of helping executives prepare and present powerful and effective presentations. While I see better presentations, some presenters are lazy and pile on the bullets using 12pt fonts and overly complicated charts and graphs.
Folks – I have a news flash for you. PowerPoint is not why the vast majority of presentations fail to communicate and engage the audience. PowerPoint is merely a tool. PowerPoint does not force you to use bullets and small typefaces in your slides. You have complete control over the design of your presentation, including the content of your presentation.
Most presentations are one-sided lectures and are usually only about what is important to the presenter. Presenters often fail to understand what their audience cares about, and they don’t know what their goal is with the audience.
When you combine one-sided content and bad presentation design, you get a boring presentation that is a waste of time for the audience and fails to communicate.
If you want to engage your audience, start by asking the following five questions:
Here is a simple model I call “the outcome-based creative approach” for creating compelling and impactful presentations, articles, videos or any other form of media and it focuses on five key elements:
Audience: The presenter is often passionate and focused on the information presented. However, if the presentation turns into a one-sided lecture, the viewer may be left in the dark. A successful presentation must address what is important to the audience because they are thinking “what’s in it for me. The more you know your audience, the more effective your presentation can be.
Information: Information alone cannot make an effective presentation. The audience sees facts and figures fly by and the detail level often goes in one ear and out the other. A successful presentation begins with a strong organizational logic and an intelligent framework to help the audience understand and interpret them.
Message: The intelligent framework that brings focus to the information is the message. The message defines the ways you wish to change the audience’s understanding, perception and feeling about the subject matter. The message acts as a recurring theme focusing attention on the significance of what is being presented and helps the audience to interpret the information.
Direction: Having conveyed a new understanding, perception, and feeling about the subject matter, you must have a clear direction that leads to your desired outcome. In successful presentations, the direction is often stated as one or more specific performance objectives that communicate a course of response and action to the audience.
Outcome: Understanding your desired outcome is the fundamental element in creating a successful presentation. The outcome represents the tangible business results driven by the event – decisions made, actions taken, problems solved.
The outcome-based creative approach is designed to ensure your desired outcome is realized through a synergy of content development principles and technology expertise. It can be summarized in the following manner; Inspire your audience to take action by presenting information with a clear message and definitive direction to bring about your desired outcome.
Nine Practices for Delivering Effective Presentation:
- We are visual. We don’t think in words, we think in pictures in full living color. Use more images to help communicate your story.
- Keep your slides simple. Don’t make your audience work hard to figure out your slides. They will stop listening to you.
- YOU are the presentation, not the slides. Slides are there to help you communicate visually to your audience
- DO NOT use slides as your notes. It is awful to watch a presenter read their slides (this also leads to massive “bullet Point-it is”.
- Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse. This way you won’t need to read your slides.
- Don’t feel the need to have a slide for every single part of the presentation. Use a logo or try adding a slide with a black background. This is a very powerful technique if you want your audience to focus on you like a laser beam.
- Similar to point number 4 – Be very careful not to mix up your presentation with handouts. This might leave your audience wondering, “Why not just give me the slides and let me get back to work or the golf course.
- BONUS TIP – Don’t give the audience a handout at the beginning of the presentation. Guess what they will be doing while you are delivering your presentation? That’s right, reading the handout to the end and not paying attention to YOU.
- BONUS TIP #2 – Have Fun and Enjoy giving the presentation. The audience will appreciate it.
Remember, YOU are the presentation, NOT your slides! Visual aids should only be used to support your message or assist the audience in understanding complex matters.