In Winning Presentations
By Candice Tomlinson
The portable skills across all platforms
Whether the purpose of your presentation is to persuade, connect, inform or simply to share a few ideas with a small audience around a boardroom table, or to 200 people in an auditorium, there are some key, universal skills that can move audiences from being largely disinterested to becoming your biggest advocates.
What works and what doesn’t?
Think of a presentation you recently attended. What made you tune in and what made you tune out? I am certain that at the top of your list was a lack of relevance and value. It’s worth considering on the contrary what may have made this presentation a standout? A breakthrough in communication was that the presenter told you something new that had real relevance and value to you. When a presenter is committed to their audience, recognises that the audience deserves their absolute best and is grateful for the gift of their audience’s time, they have their relevance radar on perpetually. They ensure that, in Chris Anderson’s words (Head of TED), “They have something worth saying that matters deeply to you.” Value and relevance are your portable skills when you are ‘performing’ in townhall presentations or presenting to a group of fellow colleagues.
Capturing the attention of the distracted economy.
We are competing for the attention of inherently distracted audiences. This is another reason to ensure that we deliver value and relevance in each presentation. However, nobody is going to buy into what you have to say if they haven’t bought into you first. Fundamental to your success as a presenter is your ability to engage and connect with your audience, and sincerity and authenticity are clear winners in the race for connection. I can distinctly remember sitting in on a presentation about scrap metal. Let’s be honest, scrap metal is not the world’s most invigorating topic, however the presenter was so memorable that scrap metal will forever be imprinted in my memory. What made this presenter so memorable? Her authenticity. She had found her sweet spot in presentations and her sweet spot was her quiet confidence and sincere passion. She was not trying to be Nelson Mandela or Anthony Robbins, she was unapologetically herself. Being her genuine self, made her indelible. It allowed the audience to connect with her wholeheartedly.
Credibility and storytelling.
Connecting with your audience through your authentic presence is only half the battle won. One of the first questions to enter the minds of audience members the minute you start speaking is, “Why should I listen to you?” Your credibility is at stake, so having a deep understanding of your subject is more important than knowing your script. One of the most powerful ways to bring your subject to life is through storytelling. People love stories, and the ability to provide your audience with a story that sticks is far better than reciting or regurgitating a learnt script. Stories have power – they can crystallise a business case, bring boring technical information to life and create meaningful shifts. Stories are portable and easily replicated across all presentation platforms. At its crux, storytelling is all about shifting information and data into knowledge, which should in turn become wisdom. Through artful storytelling we can share our wisdom with our audiences and this shift from the transmission of information to the inspiration of communication is artistry! The critical shift that follows effective storytelling is that audiences start paying attention and shift from disinterested to advocates through the conviction of your tale.
Your presentation guide.
In the interests of ensuring that you deliver relevance and value and connect with your audience through your unquestionable credibility and your ‘sticky’ stories we, at Maura Fay Learning have created a checklist, containing 8 questions. This is a great guide to consider, when preparing your presentation – whether you are presenting seated or standing, virtual or in person, co-presenting or presenting solo, to a few audience members or to many.
Here is your checklist:
Make sure to revisit our blog for further insight into the 8 points above.
All the best in your future presentations,
Maura Fay Learning.