Let’s cut to the chase…
As a presenter, you suck!
Which is astonishing, because you’ve done the not-so-cheap 2 day confident presentation training course; You’ve read the bestselling books on presentations and slide design; You even bought yourself your own laser pointer.
But you still suck.
And to be blunt…
Your audience would rather be watching grass grow than listening to your rendition of Bullet Points on a Slide.
How can this be?
You’ve spent time and money to improve your presentation skills. Why won’t they listen to you?
Honestly, it’s because you are focused on the wrong things. It’s because the authors of the books and the facilitators of the training courses have you focused on the wrong things.
The wrong things.
Over the years we’ve got further and further away from what a presentation should actually be about. We’re focused on the slides, the handouts, the data, the lighting, the stage, the seating, the environment. All the wrong things.
Here’s the shocking truth… The information you won’t get from the books or training courses who want to focus you on push-button solutions:
The shocking truth is that the presentation is all about you. Your relationship with the audience, and how you communicate.
No one cares about your slides, your graphs, or your bullet points. No one really cares about whether you are standing in the best light or how high the stage is.
The audience simply wants to be engaged.
Here are 7 shocking presentation breakthroughs that the bestselling books and training courses won’t tell you.
1. Start your presentation like a good book
The first few pages of a novel are always engaging.
You never open a book to the first page and read something like, “There was once a man. He often woke up at 6am. On Mondays…”
The reason you don’t read this kind of thing in books is that it’s really, really boring.
Books always start in the middle of something. Instantly popping questions into your head about what’s going on and why.
If you want to engage your audience try something similar in your presentations.
Instead of starting with the standard, “Good morning. Today i’d like to talk about…”, try something like this:
“It was only after we had a close look at last year’s financials that we realized what changes we needed to make to our computer system. Today, I’d like to share some exciting news with you.”
2. Plan in blocks
Cut out the script writing.
Write out a script and you’ll only sound like a robot as you read it back. And, unless your audience are robots they aren’t going to listen to you.
Instead of writing out a script, think about what you need to say and break it into blocks, simple headings.
For each of the simple headings fill in the details (not in writing, in speaking).
Actually talk about the detail of each simple heading. Once you are well-practiced, put them all together and you have your full presentation which now sounds very natural.
No more robots!
3. Don’t use slides
Slides are to a presentation as stiletto heels are to a penguin’s mobility.
The thing about slides is that they only enhance your presentation delivery when you don’t need them.
If you need the slides to do your presentation (ie. as a prompt, or worse, for reading) then your presentation is going to suck.
Get rid of the slides and you’ll have a much more engaged audience.
4. Okay then, just don’t use bullet points
Yeah, yeah… I got it, your boss insists you use slides in your presentation.
Okay, use slides.
But!…. Avoid bullet points.
Fill your slides with bullet points and guess what’s going to happen…
That’s right! Your slides will become a prompting device.
Instead of bullet points, use images.
Think of when you see a newsreader talking to the camera with an image on their right side. They don’t have bullet points. They have an image or video related to what they are reporting.
Don’t believe me?
Check this out:
5. Practice standing up
Don’t practice sitting down.
Stand up in the position you’ll be in when presenting.
When you stand up you’ll think more clearly, you’ll project your voice better, and probably find your speech easier to remember.
6. Record and review
Record your delivery as you practice (video is best).
After you’ve delivered, review. It will be hard to watch yourself at first, but suffer through it. Your presentation will be better for it!
As you watch, pick one or two points you need to improve and focus your next practice on improving those things.
Repeat this process as often as you can.
7. The audience are a group of your friends
This is important.
Whether you know the audience personally or not, you should treat them the same way you would treat your friends.
Talk to them naturally, conversationally.
Empathize with them. If you expect them to do something or take on extra work, acknowledge the burden.
Interact with them.
What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments below. Oh, and by the way… before you say “These are not breakthroughs, this is just normal”, think back to the last few business presentations you suffered through.