Information is everywhere. With so much information being processed by people every day, it’s important to make sure your message cuts through the noise. Presentations are a powerful tool that can help individuals and organisations make an impact and create influence within your organisation or industry. Below are five tips you can implement in your presentation process to help get your message across to your audience in a way that is memorable and make a difference.
- Understand your audience.
Before you tell your story, you need to understand your audience’s story. Before you work out what your going to say you need to know who you are saying it to. It will help inform the way in which you craft your presentation. Asking questions and being curious is the best way to begin to think about your audience. Who are they? What are the biggest problems they face right now? How does what you have to say help them? What have they heard before? What might be their rejections to your idea? How does what you have to say make them feel? All these questions provide a profile for your target audience and gives you a better understanding of who you’re talking to. I speak differently to my Mum than I do with my bus driver in the morning. Getting the right message to the right audience is the essential first step to creating a presentation that speaks with influence and makes an impact.
- Know your environment.
Presenting is performance. And with any performance, from musical theatre to stand-up comedy – the environment in which performance is presented matters. Having a good understanding of the space that you are presenting in will have a huge impact on the way you deliver and even the way you craft your story. Presenting a pitch over coffee is vastly different to presenting in a boardroom. Make an effort to understand as much as you can in advanced what environmental influences you might be up against as you present. Are you speaking in front of two people or 200 people? Are you holding the microphone or will you need to project your voice in a lecture hall? Even details like what time of day are you performing? Is it before or after lunch? Can have a huge impact on the way you present and give you an understanding of how your audience might be feeling. While these factors won’t change everything about your presentations it is helpful to be aware of them as you craft your presentation. These factors will affect the way you tell your story and even how that story might relate to them in that moment.
- Choose the right medium
Once you understand who your audience and the environmental factors that you are up against the medium of your presentation should be more obvious. If you are the 10th speaker in a conference and it’s 4pm in the afternoon – there is a good chance that your biggest battle will be holding the attention of the room. A PowerPoint presentation may not help influence the room in the way you’d like to. Exploring other forms or presentation including video, 3D modelling and virtual/augmented reality might be a strategic tool to help communicate your message in a fresh and engaging way.
- Tell a story
Presentations can often lack story. They are focused more on data presentation rather than narrative. A great to help think of your presentation’s narrative is to work out what the problem that you are trying to solve is. How can you set up the problem in a way that makes you, your organisation or idea the solution to that story while also making your audience feel like the hero for choosing your solution. Think about how you can manipulate the structure of beginning, middle and end to tell your story in a more interesting way.
- Measure your impact
Part of creating an influential presentation is knowing how you want to influence your audience. Once you know how you want to influence your audience spend some time identifying what factors can you measure that will indicate how well your presentation has made an impact. End your presentation with a clear call-to-action, anything from signing up to a mailing list to securing investment. Try and find a tangible metric, if your success metrics are less tangible – perhaps building in a quick live survey at the start and at the end of the presentation using survey software might help track engagement and response to your story.
By implementing these five tips into your presentation process you will revolutionize the way you engage with your audience. Your presentation will be more interesting, more empathetic to your audience’s story and can mobilise your presentation to help increase credibility and spread influence within your organisation or industry.
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