We’ve all suffered through them before—presentations that lull us to sleep, fail to make a point, waste our time, and make us wish we could overthrow the presenter in favor of charades or an early Happy Hour. Then, on fleeting occasions, we’re reminded just how powerful presentations can be when they’re done the right way.
The CB&A team recently attended a webinar from BrightTALK on how to be a “presentation god” (or goddess), and we’ve picked out some key points that will help you deliver a killer presentation the next time you stand up in front of an audience.
To make these tips easier to digest, we’ll feed them to you as a three-course meal: content, design, and delivery. This post will cover content, which happens to be the most important and most frequently overlooked step in crafting a presentation.
Creating Effective Content
Dan Schwertly, the webinar presenter, was emphatic about breaking everything down into groups of three, so we’ll do the same while discussing content. You need to consider three components in this stage:credibility, knowing the audience, and planning.
Credibility is essential to the success of your presentation. If your audience doesn’t have faith in your status as a thought leader, you’ll have a hard time persuading them. Plenty of factors affect your credibility. Wrinkled shirt? Downgrade. Compelling content? Upgrade. Lack of enthusiasm? Downgrade. You get the idea. The best ways to enhance your credibility are to plan ahead, develop original ideas, and present with confidence. Take your audience seriously, and they’ll return the favor.
Knowing the Audience
This sounds like an obvious step, but presenters too often forget who’s sitting in the audience. During every presentation, audience members will ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” An exercise in empathy is required for you to understand what your audience is looking to gain from your talk—and how you can give it to them. Provide actionable tips that your audience can incorporate immediately. Imagine you’re presenting on how to find a job. Instead of the generic advice “you should be networking,” list some local networking events or tips on how to network effectively. Be an instant resource.
Brainstorming about your presentation is a good start, but you’ll be better off in the long run if you commit to more structured planning. First, formulate an objective. What do you hope to achieve with your talk? Knowing your end goal will make it easier to hone your content. Second, pick an interesting theme and title for the presentation. Instead of “The Benefits of Wind Energy,” try something like “Spill-proof.” Make it interesting from slide one. Third, create an outline. Don’t annoy your audience by jumping around without much semblance of organization. An outline will also help you arrange your thoughts.
This seems like a lot to do, but remember that developing content is the first and most important step in every presentation. Invest a little more time on the front end, and you’ll thank yourself later.
Check back after Thanksgiving for some simple design tricks that will leave your audience believing that you graduated with an Art minor.