If you’re like me, one of the first things you do when crafting a presentation is to nail its purpose. The job of any presentation is to influence change in some way that moves people to action.
To do so, you must connect with your audience, which requires using empathy to build your message. Another “must-have” is to build trust. This comes through with the information you present, how you present it, and your energy & confidence. The ultimate goal is to have your audience envision “what could be” and embrace a new normal – doing so, with action.
Here are five techniques we use when coaching clients to help you take your presentation to the next level:
1. Head, Heart, Eyes
- Head – Data & facts play well to build credibility. Build in numbers & percentages that give credence to the story. The presentation must be logical, make sense & stand up to challenge. It must have a coherent structure. A classic structure is: 1) Setting the Scene, 2) The Problem/Challenge, 3) The Value Proposition, 4) How It Works & What It Costs, 5) Critical Assumptions, 6) Proposed Next Steps, and 7) The Ask.
- Heart – Connect the story in your presentation with emotion that moves people. You want this to be something your audience deeply cares about. (The Empathy Map is a proven visual tool used to understand your audience). Be empathetic by building a story around an emotional connection that resonates with them. You can’t go wrong by taking a deep dive into understanding the customer in your story and connecting them to your solution (the change agent).
- Eyes – We decode visuals before words. Use visual triggers and movement in your slides for rapid consumption. To build engaging content, select an image, icon, or photograph that metaphorically represents your message. Focus on tapping into the feelings that allow you to take your audience on an emotional journey.
2. Lead Your Presentation, Don’t Let Your Presentation Lead You
We’ve all seen the slide that has complete thoughts written out. Slides that are verbiage heavy create a distraction because they force your audience to read the slide, which keeps them from focusing on you and what you’re saying. Lead your presentation with slides that visually represent the point you’re making. This allows you to use visual triggers for quick consumption that align with what you’re telling the audience and provide the space for them to focus on you, which creates a more memorable experience.
3. Use the Q&A Time Wisely
The Q&A portion is a precious time for you to reinforce your passion for the topic. Strategically think about how you hope this time is used and be ready to be challenged, which is a good thing. As you build your presentation, think about the questions you hope the audience will ask. Here you can pepper in bold statements that make your audience take note and ask you to clarify – giving you another opportunity to build trust while elaborating on critical takeaways that support your ask.
4. Bring Your Energy
The audience will feed off of your energy, which is not something you can copy from others. You certainly can be inspired, though. TEDx has loads of speakers who are great examples presenting on many different topics. You need to find the energy and style that make your presentations memorable. Body language and tone play a huge part in this.
5. Test It
Here’s where you can get extreme value by doing test runs and getting feedback from folks who know people in your target audience or are in your target audience. Think of your presentation as a design sprint, so you’re validating and iterating along the way. By the time you deliver the presentation, it’s close to a foregone conclusion because you’ve practiced many times over, plus your confidence level is high.
In the end, you’re seeking to convince people of your point of view to drive a specific outcome. You might be trying to secure resources & buy-in or possibly align people & teams on a vision or strategy. The techniques you use will certainly impact your success. Here are additional Do Tank resources that provide visual tools & processes to help you achieve your desired outcomes.