“World class presentations require time and focus” ― Nancy Duarte
Rome wasn’t built in one day. Neither will you be able to create a good presentation in a few hours. Crafting a presentation ― yes, even a business or technical one ― is a creative process. A process that takes more than a PC with PowerPoint (or Keynote, or Prezi, or …) installed on it.
As I wrote in my previous post, it all starts with finding your pitch: thinking about the story you want to tell, the messages you want to convey, and the results you want to obtain. So, don’t start creating a single slide before you have figured out WHAT you want to tell to WHOM, and HOW you’re are actually going to deliver it. Only then comes the ‘packaging’ of your content.
- Always start with the end in mind. Take a blank sheet of paper and write down (no more than) three results you want to obtain from your presentation. What impressions do you want the people in the room to take home? What do you want them to remember about your product or service? What action do you want them to take after the meeting?
- Then inventorize your assets: what facts and figures, anecdotes, trivia, case studies, experience, demos or prototypes, etc. do you have on hand that may help you achieve these objectives?
- Based upon the outcome of the questions above, you may select the most suitable medium for delivering your content, e.g. a traditional slide presentation, a naked speech, maybe supported by video testimonials or — why not — a live demonstration. Note that your choice may also be influenced by the size and composition of your audience, the layout of the room, or the technical facilities you have on hand.
- Make sure your talk has a begin, a middle and an end. Consider structuring it the AIDA way. As the first seconds of your performance are crucial for grabbing your audience’s attention, choose a catchy title and craft a powerful opening slide.
- Think visual. Use images to communicate, not decorate. Translate concepts to visual metaphors. Look for compelling ways to conceptualize facts, processes and data. You won’t need artistic drawing skills; a bit of analytical sense and a good portion of creativity will certainly do.
- Analyze. Surprise. Focus. Simplify. Cut the crap and don’t feed the chameleons. Keep your presentation short and sweet. And when you prepare slides, keep them clear, clean and consistent.
- Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your presentation as often as needed. In front of your mirror, your family or your colleagues. Or use a video recorder to tape your performance.
- But most of all, reserve ample time for your preparation. The time you invest in realizing, refining and rehearsing your presentation should be proportional to the importance of your talk, and reverse proportional to the time you will be given to present.
Next week, part 3 of the 3 P’s trilogy: about delivering your presentation. In, the mean time here’s more material to digest:
- How to Prepare for Any Presentation (by Kelly Hook)
- Create a Presentation Your Audience Will Care About (by Nancy Duarte)
- 8 Ways to Crush Your Next Presentation through Preparation (by Mark Sanborn)
- The 3 P’s of presenting (by me)
- Amen and… action! (by me)
- An opera in four acts (by me)
- Begin the beginning (by me)
- Replace the lamp (by me)
- Don’t feed the chameleons (by me)
- De gustibus et coloribus (by me)