In my work as a high stakes meeting facilitator, it is not uncommon for a few presentations to be made. The CEO may talk about the business strategy, the CFO may talk about the financial health of the business, the product leads may talk about the future of the products.
And often times, they ask me for help to punch up their presentation – to make it more lively, interesting and engaging. They say they don’t want to use by PowerPoint, but truly, that’s their comfort zone. They don’t know how to do it differently.
Yet, when I talk with them, it’s more than just getting rid of the slides. We need to talk about what the audience cares about – not just about the incredible information we know.
So here is a series of questions I ask my clients in trying to make sure their “presentation” meets the needs of the audience:
- Why is this topic important for this audience? Why here; why now?
- What do they need to know about the topic? You don’t need to tell them everything you know about it. Pick three key points (that’s anyone can remember – that includes you as well as the audience!) and build your presentation around those three points. Include some kind of anecdote, illustration or example that makes your point come alive.
- What do you want them think and feel about the topic? If you want them to feel happy, then you should be happy. Concerned? You should be concerned. And don’t forget to tell your face. Audiences get really confused when you say one thing and appear differently.
- What will the audience DO during the presentation? Passive listening just isn’t going to cut it. Change the energy every 6 minutes or so by mixing the format up with a chat group, demo, ask the audience a question, ask for questions from the audience (Q&A), get a testimonial of someone’s experience, show a quick minute video….and the list goes on. If you are looking for ideas, there are close to a hundred different ideas in my book, Boring to Bravo.
- At the end of the session, what’s the key message you want them to remember? “Bake” that key message into your presentation – saying it several times so it will be memorable.
- At the end, what are you going to ask the audience to do as a result of this presentation? This is the call to action – otherwise, why give a presentation?
- End on a optimistic high note. Plan this out as this is the last point people will remember.
When you ask these questions, it becomes clear how to punch up your presentation so your audience will not only understand, but retain your key messages.