A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Many years before George Lucas’s neck began consuming his head, he and his partner, Gary Kurtz, set about creating a “space opera” which would become Star Wars.
It was many years before the outline, and subsequent drafts, became the finished product which made it to movie theaters on May 25, 1977.
In the years between 1971 and 1977 the movie morphed significantly from the original concept. The original plan saw Han Solo as a frog and the dark side of the force named “The Bogan.” Over time, with reviews and re-drafts, these things changed. And the movie was all the better for it (although it would have been kind of cool for Australians to be able to say bogans were the dark side of the force).
Despite the absense of Bogans, the movie release was a smash hit success and spawned a franchise that would capture the imagination of generations.
The point is, for the movie to be a success many reviews and re-drafts were required.
For the movie to be a success, Lucas knew exactly where the story was going before any of the actors uttered their first line.
Your presentation is the same.
While you don’t have 8 years to review and re-draft your presentation, your presentation’s success relies on the preparation you do before you get on stage.
My wildly popular post about how to do a knockout presentation talked about the impossible key to a successful delivery. This “impossible key” is counterintuitive preparation.
Preparation for a killer presentation is counterintuitive because it runs against everything business people naturally do when it comes to preparing their talks.
Here are the 9 counterintuitive steps for a killer presentation. Do you think you can do them?
Note: I will give an example, where appropriate, for the steps. For the examples I will use the presentation topic “A new sales campaign”.
1. Choose a destination
Often overlooked, the destination is a critical factor in preparing a killer presentation.
When George Lucas planned Star Wars he choose the destination, the plot twists and turns before he started filming.
When you take a vacation you decide where you will go before you get on the plane.
So, as your first step, decide where you want the audience to “go”. Write it down. Knowing this makes everything easier going forward, so take the time now to decide what you want them to do.
Is it accepting a new dress code? Is it filling out a survey? Is it following a new process or set of guidelines? Whatever it is, write it down.
Example: Get the audience to read the information pack regarding the new sales campaign and send questions they have about how this applies to their clients.
2. Define your key points
What key information will the audience need, to get from where they are now to the destination?
Take some time to write down the key points you will need to get across in your presentation.
Don’t focus on editing here, just write down the main “headings” you will have to talk about.
At the end of this process you show have a brainstormed keyword list that will form the basis of your presentation.
- Last year’s poor sales performance
- New sales campaign
- Sales projections for coming year
- Information pack
3. Draft an outline
It might be tempting to start writing out a script now.
While it is okay to do so (provided you don’t try and memorize it) I encourage you to try something a little different…
Instead of writing out a script, take your key points and destination and make a draft outline. Some useful methods of creating the outline are to use a mind map or a flowchart.
The outline allows you to arrange the key points in your desired order. It also gives you the opportunity to develop them further if necessary.
At the end of this process you should have a relatively simple mind map or flowchart which is easy to remember.
4. Get familiar with your subject matter
Now it’s time to put your drafts aside and focus on the subject matter.
How well do you know the subject you’ll be talking about?
If you have any gaps in your knowledge it’s time to fill them. It’s time to become the subject matter expert.
Doing this step will help you to be more confident on stage as well as handle difficult questions.
You are the subject matter expert.
You have your mind map or flowchart.
You know where you want the audience to go.
It’s time to practice.
Practice delivering your presentation using the flow you have an your head from the outline you created and memorized. If the outline is too difficult to remember, consider simplifying the outline before you continue.
Once you’ve practiced enough, and you can remember what you need to say, it’s time to look at your delivery with a more critical eye.
Get your video camera, tablet, or smart phone out. You’re going to record yourself.
Video is best, but audio will do.
Record yourself delivering your presentation from beginning to end. Watch back your delivery. Pick the two biggest “problem areas” you find and work to fix them in your next practice delivery.
7. Rinse and repeat
Time permitting repeat step 6 as often as possible.
The more times you can review your delivery and eliminate filler words and ticks, and tighten up your speech, the happier your audience is going to be when you eventually step out in front of them.
8. Build your slide deck
This is perhaps the most counterintuitive part of the process.
Creating your slides so late in the game?
This makes no sense, right?… If we are creating the slides so late what is going to drive our presentation?
The slides will not be the driver of your presentation. You will!
Here are some guidelines for designing your slides:
- The slides are there to act as support only, therefore, cut out the bullet points
- The slides should only act to reinforce what the audience are listening to from you
- The audience should never have to read from the slides
If you need help designing your slides, enlist HBO’s John Oliver.
As a final step, practice delivering your presentation with your slides.
Remember that the slides should never become a focus for the audience, so as you practice avoid looking back at the screen, avoid reading, and avoid pointing.
If you use these steps to prepare your presentation I would love to hear how it goes.
What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments below…
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