5 Strategies For A Winning Presentation
#1 Know Your Audience
It may sound obvious, but designing an effective presentation comes as much from knowing your audience, as it does from organising the content that outlines what you are selling them. It’s important to know exactly who will be in the room, and to identify their angle. A marketing manager will focus on very different components to a sales manager, for example. Work out what all the players want, then stack the deck in your favour by anticipating the questions each player will bring, and answering them before they are asked.
#2 Stucture & Flow
Remember the last time you sat through a presentation and felt completely lost? Not only were you struggling to see where the presenter was heading, you also found the endless list of bullet points and lack of visual consistency greatly adding to your confusion. Hard-to-follow, inconsistently written, high content presentations can be extremely disengaging. Plus, they don’t say much for your business’ planning and organisational capabilities. The audience won’t be with you in the weeks leading up to the day you meet with them, so you need to bring them ‘on the journey’, so they feel the same passion for your product/service/idea as you do. A clear structure that takes them from beginning to end with vision, focus, and a strong flow will only come from an upfront plan with the flexibility to evolve as the project progresses. Plan, write and adjust a presentation outline as part of your strategic process, and do it first, before you do anything else.
#3 Story-telling, Not Story-selling
Now, remember the last time you were truly engaged in a presentation. How did it make you feel? Did you leave thinking, ‘that was interesting, I’ll consider buying that’? Of course not. You left feeling excited, inspired and sold without question (of course you’re buying, it didn’t even cross your mind not to; you’re too busy visualising the future outcomes). Present your content like any story; with a beginning (why we are all here and what’s interesting about it); middle (what we want to tell you, why you should care and what you’ll get out of it); and end (what we want from you, how much it will cost, how long it will take). In other words, stop selling, start telling! When they leave the room they won’t remember everything you said, or showed them, but they will remember the overall sense of how you made them feel. Tell your story in a way that leaves them feeling inspired, understood, and part of something game-changing.
#4 Not What You Say, But The Way You Say It
This awesome Ted Talk by Sound Expert Julian Treasure outlines how the depth, pace and speed of our voice can make the difference between people listening to you or switching off. It’s worth watching the whole way through as he also covers the art of listening, which is helpful when the time comes to receive feedback and questions. With this in mind, rehearse! Rehearse! Rehearse! Rehearsals give the team chance to build a rapport and flow, and provide each other with feedback. Someone not involved in the project should attend the rehearsal for an objective viewpoint and to check the outtake is received as intended.
#5 Imagery, Words, Colour, Style
You need them all! Effective presentation design relies on a delicate balance between visual stimulation and complementary written and spoken words. This is a strategic, and time-consuming process, which shouldn’t be left to the last minute. Remember that a presentation is a representation of your business, brand, and capabilities, so first impressions really do count. Make building the presentation an integral part of your strategic approach, and respect it as such. Marry a Strategist with an advanced software user (whether its PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote) for best results.
Happy presenting and good luck!