The #1 mistake in corporate presentations is Information Overload, also known as TMI (too much information.)
Real life, in-person presentations lose the precious impact they should have because most audiences have so many communication channels available. People stress out just trying to keep up. As a result, nothing sticks. Worse, they feel a little panicky most of the time.
(Think of an unprepared student struggling with the concept of multiplication while the teacher expects his correct answer immediately. )
Another illustration of Information Overload:
Excellent communicators overcome Information Overload by precisely crafting their presentations. This involves the “less is more” concept that German born Ludwig Mies van der Rohe used in architecture.
The silver lining in the overabundance of communication channels means the formal, face-to-face presentation has a far greater potential for impact.
That means when you craft a presentation, being more precise takes you from generic / boring to compelling.
5 Tools to make your presentation more precise:
1. Decide the SPECIFIC purpose of your talk to this specific audience.
You may have several objectives in mind. See if you can clarify and prioritize them. You probably want to:
- Build a stronger personal relationship with your audience — the whole or part.
- Show exactly how you, your product, or your service is their best option.
- Demonstrate proof that your team is performing exceptionally well on a project.
- Invite a new way of thinking about an issue or situation.
- Teach a skill refinement or how to use a new product feature.
- Increase funding for your department.
A more precise purpose triggers more specific examples and arguments.(More on this topic in High Resolution Messaging).
2. Remove ALL material that does not support your exact presentation purpose.
Aim to make your talk shorter than the time allotted. The discipline of using less time forces you to be more precise. With every point you plan to make, every example and research finding, ask yourself if it’s driving your specific purpose.
This means connecting every point to your objectives and to the priorities of this audience. Remember they need to hear and assimilate the knowledge you’re sharing.
Imagine that everyone in your audience has to take a test on your presentation material at the end. Pretend you’re compensated based on how well they perform. How can you structure your message so they remember what you decided as the purpose of this talk?
3. Write out your best-case scenario in advance (Pre-cap it!).
No kidding. Write out a paragraph that describes how your presentation just went. Writing out (in advance) the details of how you felt and how the audience reacted. This is a powerful tool to get this desired reaction in motion. Remember these truths about your audience:
- They’re overwhelmed already.
- They want you to succeed.
- They’re looking to YOU for leadership, at least while you’re in charge of the floor, so to speak.
Use this tool to help them assimilate what they need to know about your topic.
4. Use the Helpful Rule of 3.
Our brains are these amazing beyond supercomputer thinking creations. But memories are tricky and most people can only remember 3 things. Some of us have trouble remembering what we’re supposed to be doing at any given moment, how old we are, or what day it is.
Recall from English Lit class your papers had to have an introduction, body and conclusion.
Use the rule to identify 3 key points you want your audience to remember.
Or spell out 3 competitive advantages of your product.
Connect them to 3 reasons to hire you or your company.
These 3 items drive the organization of your entire talk, even in an interview situation.
Your organization helps the audience to remember, and thus, appreciate what you’ve said.
5. Put the things you edited out elsewhere.
Elsewhere means a handout, a different presentation, or other location.
Yes, it’s true that they probably won’t read your handout, but they’ll have that important information as a point of reference.
Most of the time, putting too many numbers on a slide is a sure way to send your audience to the snooze zone. Data, yes. Too much data, no. Data without context, never.
Pubic speaking remains the most powerful communication channel. Most importantly, investing time to make the message more concise and compelling always pays dividends.
For more detailed expertise on upgrading your presentation download the 28-page illustrated PDF No More Boring Presentations.