Imagine you’re about to make a movie. Think of all the things you need: lights, cameras, a director, the right actors, and most importantly, a script.
Presentations are no different. You can’t just throw some props or people in a room with no direction and wait for the magic to kick in.
If you just open up PowerPoint or Prezi and try to plan, write and create slides as you go, you will end up eating up more time, resources and money than a Star Wars trilogy.
You need to plan and practise a presentation to ensure it’s a good investment, here’s how.
Make your message stick
Like any great film, a presentation has one clear message – no more. You then repeat that message throughout to make the message stick. It is that one idea, purpose or point that is the glue that holds everything else together.
Think Mary Poppins – ‘every action has a consequence’ – to Forrest Gump – ‘you can do anything with perseverance and passion’.
Once there is a clear bumper sticker message then it’s easy to figure out what the main take-home message is for the audience and what it is they should do as a result.
Anything else in the presentation that does not align to this message should be deleted, stripped out and banished.
Decide on the action
What do you want your audience to feel? Should they feel excited, happy, angry or, even, sad? What do you want them to do as a result?
A good presentation needs to balance the logic of the content (the data and the facts) with an emotional connection (the feeling that makes us leap up in glee).
Choose images, photos, video, and even colours, that match the mood you’re going for. Use relevant stories to connect one-to-one with them, so what you’re saying and showing becomes not only memorable, but meaningful as well.
They need to leave the room feeling not only driven to act, but also knowing how to act – what should they do next?
Practise to present
No movie goes to air without thousands of rehearsals; think of your presentation the same way.
Practise your presentation out loud, not just in your head. Let your personality and passion shine. Give your audience more than just a report.
Don’t try and memorise the script. Be prepared to deliver on the spot with no speaker notes, just your consistent message and an idea of what you want your audience to do at the end.
And if all else fails, remember when you invest the time and energy into planning a powerful presentation then your audience will invest their time and energy in you, your story and, ultimately, that’s what will make it a blockbuster.