Enjoyed a few cheekies with a pal the other night, and before watching the awesomeness that is this years Champions League, he asked me what quick-fire tips I could give him for how to make an effective presentation.
With only a blink’s worth of thinking time, and under 60secs to impart such wisdom, here’s what I considered the three main pointers to be:
Mantra – If you could boil down your message to just one single point or sentence, how would it sound? The ability to distil what you want to get across into one snappy strapline or memorable concept is essential. We were talking in the context of a 10-20 minute presentation here, so accept that your audience are unlikely to remember much afterwards, in which case, if they were to recall just one solitary thing about your pitch, then what would you want that to be?
Preparation – The old nugget remains as true as ever. I heard Michael Caine on Radio4 the other day talking about the art of acting. He’s a self-confessed rehearsal junkie. He “practices the hell out of every part”. When you don’t (and he gave several examples of sloppiness) the viewer can see the lack of preparation in the actor’s eyes. In a similar vein, people listening to you present can tell whether you’re winging it, or you really know your onions. Preparation doesn’t just relate to running through beforehand though. It also involves talking with key audience members prior to your delivery to ensure what you say is what you need to say.
Engagement – Some presenters encourage questions during their spiel, others wait for a footnote plenary to develop. In either case, the engagement to which I refer here is not the hope of kick-starting a worthwhile and lively Q&A debate. It is that you must know precisely what it is that you are trying to persuade the audience of. And once you nail that, how you frame it in terms of (my old fave) WIIFM. What’s In It For Me is the question you must allow them to positively answer so that your proposed action is both desirable and will be done quickly.