I look at effective presentations this way: whenever you want someone to do, not do or let you do something, I say you’re making a “presentation.” Why not make it an effective presentation?
Here are seven tips to make your message come through, as well as to help you be clear, confident and convincing when you deliver it.
Effective Presentations Tip #1. Get to the point.
Imagine that your meeting is over. You’ve had your say, made your case, closed your computer. Everyone is back to wherever people go after a meeting. Someone who wasn’t there asks someone who was, “What was that meeting all about?” Quick! What do want that person to say? What is the one thing you want people to remember and repeat when it’s all said and done? That’s your point, and your entire presentation should be built around bringing it home.
Effective Presentations Tip #2. Connecting trumps convincing.
People have two reasons for everything they do: the real reason and the one that sounds good. The real reason will be based on emotion, how they feel about you, your idea, recommendation or how perceived benefits and rewards make them feel. The other reason will be logical and factual. Your presentation needs the right mix of logic and emotion, because people will use the logical reasons they need to justify what is essentially an emotional decision.
Effective Presentations Tip #3. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
YOU are the No. 1 visual, not your slides. Slide transitions, builds and animations that bounce, sparkle, twist, turn and arrive with fanfare from outer space are not dazzling. They are distracting. Keep them simple and consistent. You want your audience intrigued by what you’re going to say or do next, not guessing from which direction the next slide will arrive.
When you create your presentation slides, try to have no more than three slides in a row of the same style or treatment. If you have three with a big centered visual and caption, then the fourth would perhaps be two visuals, or one flush right with a quotation. Heaven forbid you have three slides in a row full of bullet points, but if you did, the fourth would have none.
Effective Presentations Tip #5. Bring your benefits to life.
Benefits attract. Features or attributes describe. A flower does not attract a bee with a long list of pollen attributes. Convert a feature into a benefit by asking “why is [feature] important, personally, to this decision maker?” And keep on asking it, until you have a list of wants and needs that mean something to the audience. Short cut? When you cite a feature, add the words so that or which means, followed by the benefit to the listener. “The new system I’m recommending is faster and more robust so that we can stay compliant with federal regulations and avoid costly fines.”
Effective Presentations Tip #6. Mix and match your message.
You’ll have a mix of communication styles in your audience. Left brains, right brains, story tellers, skeptics, number crunchers and creative types. Know your style and make sure your presentation appeals to and is compelling to your opposite. If you are left-brained person, you will want to use plenty of bullet points—control yourself. Tell a story or give an analogy, too. If you’re a right-brained creative person, you might be inclined to go on and on about what’s possible. Make sure you give concrete examples and cite some numbers, too.
Effective Presentations Tip #7. Have the last word.
Here’s the worst way to end a presentation: “So, are there any questions?” If there aren’t any, how awkward is that? (Very.) You’re faced with a lingering silence and an “OK then, well, thank you and good bye” retreat. On the other hand, If you do get a few questions, what if the last one is a zinger, from a skeptic or know-it-all? Last words linger, and you want them to be yours.
Here’s how. Know how long your closing comments, summary or call to action are. (Under five minutes is the right answer.) Say, “Before I close, we have 10 minutes for questions.” Or, “Before I close, we have time for two quick questions.” Handle the Q&A, and then deliver your close for a truly effective presentation.
Want some help?
I have several great ways to help you be more effective whether you make your presentation with or without Power Point. Standing up or sitting down. One-to-one or one-to-many. On the phone or in writing.
Check out my effective presentation skills keynotes, breakouts and workshops for groups or teams. If you’d like specific help with a presentation or speech, perhaps a Pinpoint Session will be just the thing you need to make it all the more effective and anything but blah.