How rich and compelling is your presentation content?
The prerequisite to a brilliant presentation, before focusing on delivery, is to ensure that your message is supported by rich, relevant and rewarding content.
Sometimes it can be helpful learning from the mistakes of other professionals.
I recently attended a conference which was designed to show leaders how to improve their use of data and technology to help them make better decisions.
I sat through presentation content delivered by some of the world’s most influential brands. Did any of them inspire and equip me to ‘harness technology for business growth’?
For me personally, the answer was a disappointing and expensive NO.
Presentation 1 – The day began with a history lesson
Civilization and agriculture of 9,000 BC, through to 3500 BC – The Sumerians: Wheel and Axle, then off to Gutenberg printing in 1439AD, Charles Babbage computers in 1822 AD and finally our new friend, the Internet.
This was followed by a lecture about the importance of ‘leadership not management.’ It concluded with a call to action for us all to be ‘pioneering’.
A history lesson shared through ‘Death by PowerPoint‘.
Presentation 2 – Better but only marginally
Opening with a slide showing how much UK shoppers spent a week online – 2 years ago!
This was quickly followed by a plethora of obvious information about how consumers are still spending online after the shops are closed. We were then reminded of how we are happy to buy our holidays online and do business on the web with utility companies, etc.
Imagine hearing everything you already knew through slides full of text and bullet points. Now imagine the presenter talking over each slide while you’re busy trying to decipher it’s content.
Presentation 3 – Now we can’t keep up with the content
The next presenter rattled through his presentation at a million miles an hour. If he had slowed down just a little I may have been able to stay with him.
Presentation 4 – A little hope
The passion and enthusiasm of this presenter gave me a glimmer of hope that all was not lost.
Despite a thoroughly impassioned delivery, it still didn’t work for me.
This presentation content was nothing to do with technology or the digital age.
‘Getting our people on side and to think differently’, is a fine idea of course and is high on most leaders’ agendas; or at least it should be. The trouble is, the ideas presented weren’t even particularly new or innovative. Even the conference chairman confirmed that he had adopted a similar practice to the ideas suggested in his business in the 1980’s.
Add to that a strange quirk of irony. The presenter emphatically making the point that she had personally banned her team from using PowerPoint to communicate and express their ideas. There she was using PowerPoint herself to a room full of executives.
Presentation 5 – Now we were really heading somewhere
Stories, pacing, pausing, great eye contact, gesturing and movement; it was all there for the taking. The only thing that was missing was once again the strength of the content in presenting the obvious.
This presentation focused on the need for businesses to make their online strategy mobile friendly given the massive shift to mobile use by consumers.
The message presented was threefold:
– ‘Improve the consumer experience’
– ‘Get your marketing right’
– ‘Measure everything’
Just what every business leader needs to accelerate digital growth, a lesson in the obvious.
Presentation 6 – Hope is now lost
An economist presenting a deck of densely populated PowerPoint slides. The very impressive looking graphs and charts meant very little to the audience and looked very confusing from where we sat.
All designed to enlighten the audience that economic growth matters, agility is key and we need to think outside the box; really?
Presentation 7 – Enough was enough
After a very long day, now we listen to a presentation from one of the world’s largest mobile telecoms organisations. A barrage of slides, basically telling us how huge, innovative and incredible his company was.
Self – promotion at its very best, but to what end and at what price?
As you can imagine, that was it for me, I left after the afternoon coffee break and missed the final two speakers.
I just couldn’t take any more.
How to make your presentation content rich
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first conference I have been to that wasn’t prepared as mindfully as it should have been. Sadly, I’m certain it won’t be the last.
The good news is, it’s completely avoidable. It just take a little effort and mindfulness to craft a presentation which is, rich, compelling and rewarding.
– Begin with the end in mind
I wrote about this in a previous article, 7 Habits of a Mindful Presenter.
– How do you want your audience to feel when you’ve finished speaking?
– What tangible difference do you aim to make to their life or their business?
– How will your presentation content make their lives better, easier, happier or positively different?
– What can you tell them that will help them that they don’t already know or can easily find out for themselves?
– Give them more than the facts
Your audience want the facts. They need the data, evidence and and information. They don’t, however, want it as the expense of their emotional being. In other words, sharing data alone, without creating some form of emotional connection too is futile. People will forget the data but they will not forget how you make them feel about it.
The best way to make your presentation content powerful is to focus on how you can connect the data emotionally as well as intellectually to your audience.
In a previous article I wrote, I shared my belief that, ‘Whatever your position or role is, everyone wants to feel connected to you and your message. They don’t just wasn’t the data. They want a dialogue.’
– Focus on your audience
In a previous aricle, 4 Keys to Successful Company Summits or Conferences, I offered the following advice:
‘Far too many events of this type are focused entirely on top-down information sharing. The mistake that we see leaders make time and time again is that they use the platform as a means of telling their team what they want them to know. When little regard is given to what people truly need and want to know, you create a recipe for mediocrity.’
The best way to focus on your audience is to put yourself in their shoes. Make absolutely certain that everything you share with them is relevant and helpful.
Don’t make assumptions
Please don’t drown them in data
Don’t do what you always do
Remember, if they can Google it for themselves then allow them to do so at their leisure
– Think like a designer
If you find yourself using visuals to help bring your presentation content to life, I’ve shared 21 Powerful PowerPoinyt tips here.
The key to crafting high impact slides is to think like a good designer. That’s exactly where a few powerful PowerPoint tips can add enormous value.
Whilst most business presenters have little or no design experience there is still plenty you can do.
You can start by stripping your slides of too many words, graphics and animations and focus on keeping them simple. A highly effective way of doing this is by following these PowePoint tips.
The good news is that we can all learn from badly organised presentations like this and there is plenty we can do just by learning from and avoiding these simple mistakes.
Of course these are just my personal opinions as a presentation coach and audience member who passionately believes that every presentation should be crafted and delivered extremely mindfully.
Make your presentation content rich and deliver it with confidence, humility and passion
If you need help with your presentation content:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
Image: Courtesy of flickr.com