Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
To paraphrase America's National Rifle Association (NRA), PowerPoint doesn’t kill presentations, people kill presentations.
In the last year I’ve coached executives through some truly horrific train wrecks around their pitches, results and roadshows. Most approach presentations as a necessary evil, something to be endured.
But unless you’re a judge on a War Crimes Tribunal - or worse Australia’s Got Talent - a presentation is a fantastic opportunity to reach out and persuade people.
Or to be inspired if you’re on the receiving end of it.
So I wanted to share a few insights from the flaming depths of PowerPoint hell I’ve lived through lately. And you won’t be at all surprised to know we have a fantastic workshop that covers all this and more.
The Clarity view is simple: You can learn most of what you need to know about presenting from watching TV reporters and news anchors ply their trade. They are the experts.
Their job is to tell a persuasive and engaging story in 60 seconds or less. They have to communicate all the impact and all the emotion, visually and verbally, before you get bored enough to change channels.
That’s what we base our own presentations on, and the focus of our persuasive presentations workshops.
So here are my pet presentation peeves. I’d love to hear yours.
1. You can roll a turd in glitter but it's still a turd
Ok that’s really vulgar but you get my point. No amount of special effects will make up for the lack of a clear story. Focus on your aim, develop and arrange the arguments and examples you need to persuade your audience. Then say that, say it well and say nothing else.
Let’s take it a step further. Print out your presentation, cut out all the headings on your slides and place them in order. If the headings don’t tell the whole story go back to the drawing board and iron out your logic.
2. It’s not about you
Take a look at the world through your audience’s eyes. When they ponder your topic, what’s the key question in their mind? What do they hope for or fear?
Show them that you get them. Answer that key question by weaving your insights around the impact your story has on them. Most of all, don’t narrate what’s happened, explain what it means.
3. Speak from the heart
If you don’t buy what you’re selling no one else will. Take ownership of your material, tell the truth as you see it. Don’t memorise a script, or worse read one, just talk to your audience.
You’ve been invited to speak because of who you are and the insights only you have – that’s your true strength, so play it.