You want your presentation to be remembered by your audience and you want them to take action. Sadly, too many presentations fail on both counts and consequently can be said to be a waste of everyone's time.
Your presentation will greatly benefit from having a well defined structure. It should encourage audience attention and deliver your messages in a memorable, coherent manner.
Put simply, too many business presentations start out by being way too boring. Fail to grab your audience’s attention at this stage and you have a real uphill struggle on your hands.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Your audience will usually make a judgement of you in the first 90 seconds - this equates to approximately your first 200 words. When you craft your opening you should:
- Commit it to memory; do not rely on cue cards. Every word, pause and breath at this crucial stage of your presentations needs to be carefully scripted and delivered.
- Familiarise yourself with your surroundings and equipment, don’t open with the classic, “Can everyone hear me?” You should do your sound checks before you walk on stage.
Guide understanding and create impact
Once you have successfully delivered your opening and gained your audience’s attention, you can move towards the body of your content. In an average presentation this is where the audience’s attention will gradually decline up to the point of your conclusion. Here are several things you can do to avoid this dip in concentration:
- Condense your presentation into 3 or 5 strong key messages - a comfortable amount of information for people to remember. By contrast, your "Top 10 Strategic Initiatives" certainly won't be remembered.
- Use stories relating to your key messages. Audiences like stories and usually it's the stories people remember. If you successfully link your key points to relevant stories then you will dramatically increase audience recall of your key points.
- Use relevant statistics to back up what you are saying. They should be delivered in a digestible form – nobody likes numbers rammed down their throat!
- Avoid the common pitfall of many PowerPoint presentations – the bullet point list. Your audience will instinctively read your slide instead of listening to you.
Call to action and questions
Many business presentations close with a Q&A slide. This is a poor way to end, as you run the risk of the last voice your audience hears, not being yours - bad move! That said, you ought to satisfy your audience’s need for answers, so give them the opportunity to ask questions before your concluding remarks. Try using the following statement:
“I do have some concluding remarks ladies and gentleman, but now would be a good time to answer any of your questions…”
This gives them the opportunity to ask questions prior to your final call to action. This way, the last voice to be heard in the room is yours and your audience will leave with your message in their mind.
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