The good news? You’ve finally worked out that your boss is an idiot.
The bad news? Your company pays him to be that way.
Despite appeals to his common sense, he’s determined that you are going to do this presentation.
You’ve explained you have the least knowledge on the subject matter of anyone else in the team.
You’ve pleaded with him to give the presentation to someone else because you tend to get nervous in these situations and you might say the wrong thing.
You’ve bargained for more preparation time so that you don’t make a mistake and ruin your boss’s reputation.
But like a dog with a bone, he won’t let go. He’s made up his mind, you will do the presentation.
Boss 3. Logic 0.
Well, it’s settled… It’s 10am now, so the countdown has started to your presentation in conference room 5 at the same time tomorrow morning.
You’ve got exactly 24 hours to get ready for this presentation that you literally know nothing about.
The fear and dread firmly set in. You have so much to do between now and tomorrow morning. You’ve got to try and understand the subject matter. You’ve got to work out what to say. You’ve got to practice saying it. You’ve got to wrestle with PowerPoint and put a slide deck together.
And you’ve got to do all of those things while still getting your reports out by the end of the day. Fingers crossed you don’t get any urgent emails that need to be taken care of.
For a brief moment you consider restating your case and negotiating with Captain Rational, but he’s already back at his desk starting a new game of Solitaire.
It’s tough that you’ve got to get a presentation ready in a short time, especially when you have to still get through all your normal work.
But, you can save preparation time, reduce your stress, and keep your audience interested simply by using these 3 presentation tactics inspired by real life.
1. Conversation engages
Regular social conversation is engaging.
There are no slide decks, no laser pointer, no cue cards, no reading, no red faces, and no practiced body language.
There’s just you and the friends you are communicating with.
You relay your story. Your friends listen and give feedback. Everyone’s happy.
It’s so easy!
But when it comes to communicating through a presentation at work you go to pieces.
It’s because we’ve formalized presentations too much. We’ve put way too much focus on the ceremony of the presentation than the content. We more focused on following the steps and formality of a presentation than getting a message across clearly.
Let’s flip back to a social situation. You’re sitting there, at a dinner party, with a load of friends. Imagine if you put more focus on the ceremony and formality of what you say to your friends than getting the message across.
What is that likely to do to the communication between you and your friends?
Exactly. It would be terrible. It would be unnatural.
So, when we communicate in a business presentation it is important that we communicate the same way we would in a social situation… Naturally.
Natural conversation gets listened to. Stuffy, process-heavy, formal communication, doesn’t.
But, you’ve got a problem, right? You’re time poor as it is, you certainly can’t squeeze in some extra hours to make your presentation sound more natural.
This is the great thing. You don’t need to find time.
Making your presentation natural will save you time!
Forget memorizing the script.
Forget worrying about whether you’re speaking formally enough.
Just focus on presenting as naturally as you possibly can and getting your message across.
How can you do this? By following this simple process:
- Make sure you have a deep understanding of your subject matter
- Define the goal of your presentation
- Choose 3 main talking points to get your audience from where they are now to the goal
- Practice delivering your presentation (the 3 main talking points)
In the following post I lay out the steps to follow so you can remember what you have to say and deliver your message in a natural tone. Read: 3 Simple steps to remember your speech.
2. Curiosity engages
When you’re telling a story, your friends are more likely to stay interested when some information is missing from the story.
This is called a curiosity gap.
Stories, like jokes, have some kind of punchline.
The punchline involves the withholding of information until a particular time.
When we are talking to our friends we do this automatically.
Take curiosity into your presentations and you’ve got a tool which will instantly get your audience drawn in to your subject matter.
All it takes is to leave some information out. This is great news, because it means there’s little preparation required. You can prepare as normal and then remove a piece of information from your presentation before you deliver.
Let’s look at an example:
Imagine you are doing a presentation about a new computer system. The system will replace the current payroll system.
You could start your presentation by saying, “Good morning. Today I’d like to talk about the new payroll system and how it will impact you.”
To make your presentation more engaging you could withhold some information and create curiosity: “Good morning. Today I’d like to show you how I’m going to shave 60 minutes a week, in boring data entry time, off your schedule.”
The second statement creates a curiosity gap which encourages your audience to listen in to your presentation and find out how this 60 minutes will be saved.
3. Questions get attention
People naturally want to help. They naturally see questions as a chance to support. It’s also a chance to showcase their knowledge on a subject.
We are wired to listen for questions. So when one is asked it gets our attention.
That’s why, when you ask a question in a social or business situation, it engages people.
Questions are useful in presentations for two reasons:
1. They get attention
2. They provide a method to interact with your audience
By interacting with your audience you create a stronger connection. The audience is more likely to feel you care about them. They are also more likely to buy-in to your message.
What do you think?
Let’s chat in the comments below.