Take your Audience on a Journey

September 17, 2013

Most business presentations are about influencing, persuading and motivating people to do something, to take an action, to adopt a new way of thinking or to see things in a different light. That is why it is essential to end your presentation with a call to action. Your call to action tells your audience what you would like them to do next, in essence how to fulfill your objective for your presentation.

Everything in your presentation should lead your audience towards accepting the call to action. If you could just state your call to action and they would do it, then there would be no need for the  presentation. In effect the role of the presentation is to move your audience from where they are now, i.e. their current view of the world, to a new view where they are more likely to accept your call to action.

You are going to take your audience on a journey.  A journey of discovery that takes them from where they are now to where you want / need them to be.

Plan your route

Any long journey needs to be planned in advance. As the tour leader your travelling companions will expect you to have done your preparation and know where you are going and how to get there. So will your audience.

Know where you are going

When you start off on a journey it is usually advisable to know where you are heading. This is definitely true for a business presentation. You must have a clear, timely and measurable objective. You must know where you are taking your audience; otherwise you could end up just wasting their time and yours.

Know where they are coming from

Equally important is to know where your audience are coming from.  If you were organising a trip, there would be little point in starting it in Paris, if all your delegates lived in London. You need to know as much as possible about your audience including what they already know about your topic so that you can start in the right place. What knowledge and beliefs do they currently hold? Is there an “elephant in the room”? If so, you are best confronting it in your presentation rather than trying to detour round it.

It is also important is to judge what mood your audience are in, and start your presentation in line with that mood. There is no point cracking a joke at the start of a serious business presentation, the audience won’t be in the mood and you won’t get the reaction you were hoping for.

How are you going to travel?

On a real journey you need to decide what mode of transportation you are going to take, which may depend on the time you have available. Will it be car, bus, train or plane? Similarly for a presentation you need to decide what format you are going to use. Will it be just talking?  Or using slides? Maybe you will incorporate a video or some interactive activities to get the audience involved.

When I visited Florence recently, there were lots of tour guides walking around the town followed by crocodiles of tourists. Most of these tour guides held brightly coloured umbrellas so that their entourage could spot them and follow them through the crowded streets. How will your audience follow you through your presentation? After all you don’t want anyone getting lost. Have you got a prop you could use to help get your message across?

Straight from A to B

Sometimes when we are travelling we just want to get there as quickly and easily as possible. Straight from A to B without any deviations, hold ups or detours. In this case the travelling is just a necessary evil that has to be endured so that you can reach where you are going. Taking this approach for a presentation will ensure a very boring presentation that nobody will listen to.

As a tour guide you want to make the journey an experience in its own right, you want to make it interesting so that your audience enjoy the journey not just the destination. Rather than going straight from A to B and telling everyone, exactly how you are going to get there, how long it will take and what route you will be going on, you want to take you audience on a tour, tell them about the points of interest on route, interact with them and maybe even lead a sing along.

Again, the same is true with a presentation. Taking your audience from A to B in a straight line and telling them exactly where you are going and how you are going to get there enables the audience to get ahead of you. You have just told them what you are going to be talking about and if they think that they have heard it all before or aren’t interested they will just stop listening.

In your presentation, you need to build in some points of interest to talk about, you should make it more of a mystery tour, so that they have to listen in order to find out where you are taking them.

Knowledgeable and Concise

Fairly obviously, if you are giving a presentation you need to know what you are talking about, just as a tour guide needs to know about the locations they are travelling through and the history of the places. But you don’t need to tell everybody everything you know about the subject. Keep it concise and to the point. If you audience wants to know more they can always ask questions.

What to do when you arrive

When you arrive at the end of your journey the most important things that a tour guide will do is tell you what to do next, before they leave you to your own devices. At the end of a presentation the most important thing for you to do is to state your call to action. Tell your audience what you would like them to do, in light of all the information you have given them in your presentation. Then sit down and shut up and wait for them to do it.

Bon voyage!

Graham Young

http://www.businesspresentation.biz

Advertisements

Preparing a Presentation

January 24, 2012

When you are under pressure at work it can be difficult to allocate the appropriate amount of time to preparing a presentation that you have been asked to give. But as we all know “failing to plan is planning to fail” and this has never be more true when it comes to giving a presentation.

There are three main parts to preparing a presentation:

  • Deciding what to say.
  • Deciding how to say it.
  • Preparing yourself to say it.

What to say

Let’s start with “Deciding what to say”, this is really all about your audience and what you would like them to do. What do you want your presentation to achieve? What is your objective? How will you know if you have achieved your objective? You need to be really clear on what your aim is, so take some time at the start to work out why you are giving the presentation and what you want it to achieve. If you can write this down in one or two sentences you will have a good foundation for your presentation.

Having decided your objective, then start thinking about your audience. Who are they? Why are they coming to listen to you? What do they know about the topic already? What is it that they want or need to hear? The more you can find out about your audience the more accurately you can pitch your presentation to meet their needs and desires. When addressing a mixed audience try to define two or three different segments of your audience and create two or three alternative scenarios.

Having established why and who, it is then time to start thinking and researching what it is your going to say. Having a structure to fit the points you want to make in to is very helpful. One structure I have used successfully many times is to start by outlining the problems with the current way of doing something and the describing a vision of success, a picture of how it could be if things were different. Then go one to describe how this vision could be attained, summarizing all the benefits of the approach, inviting the audience to join you in achieving this vision which you can then restate at the end of the presentation. Don’t be tempted to add in everything that you can think of, maintain a structure. Three key points backed up by evidence or anecdotes is usually sufficient for most presentations.

It is at this point that many people make the mistake of opening PowerPoint and creating lists of slides titles and bullet points. While bullet points may be a useful way to document the points you wish to make in a speech, they do not make good visual aids.

How to Say it

Having pulled all you material together and being familiar with the main point you wish to get across, you can now turn to planning how you are going to convey this information. Are you going to stand and talk? Will you have any props to help get the message across? Will you use visual aids and if so what will they be? Are you going to tell a story? How will you involve your audience? Will you ask them questions?

Rehearse your presentation by saying it out loud. Sitting at your desk clicking though a set of slides is no way to rehearse a presentation. You need to say it out loud to become familiar with your material and to become accustomed to saying the words. By rehearsing a presentation out loud you can develop the phraseology which will work best in the spoken form, rather than the more formal style of language we use when we are writing. A single rehearsal will improve your speech by up to 80%.

You don’t need to have anyone listening to you especially the first time through, although it can help to tape record or video record your presentation rehearsal so that you get a clear view of what you actually sound and look like. I often turn off the radio and rehearse a presentation in the car on the way to the location. It is a great way to rehearse and the presentation and make sure you know what you are going to say, plus it is fresh in your mind when you arrive.

Preparing to say it

Finally, you need to put yourself in the right frame of mind for giving a presentation. If you do not feel confident you need to address it. Tell yourself that being nervous is OK, in fact, if it is an important presentation it is perfectly normal to feel nervous, you just want to recognise that you are nervous and put it to one side, while you get on with the job in hand.

Use confident boosting techniques like telling your self that you are “Poised, prepared, persuasive, positive and powerful “ and that you feel, “composed, confident, convincing, commanding and compelling”.

To counteract a dry mouth, suck a mint beforehand. Use breathing techniques to ensure there is sufficient oxygen in your bloodstream or take some gentle exercise beforehand. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Remember, the facts will only take your audience so far, it is your passion for the subject and your emotion that will lift your presentation to new heights.

Make sure you arrive at the venue, nice and early, so that you have time to get set up and familiarise your self with the surroundings, before your audience arrive. Work out where you are going to put any notes, or props you intend using and think through how any equipment you are going to use will work. Check any pens have ink in them, check your laptop to ensure the screen save, or instant messaging won’t pop up in the middle of your presentation and make sure your mobile is on silent.

Don’t rely on an off the cuff presentation, just because you know about the topic doesn’t mean you can effortlessly give a quality presentation, it takes time, it takes thought and it takes practise.


Power of Stories

June 16, 2009

I read a good article about the power of telling stories when you give a presentation, the other day and then I was reminded of it again when I heard the latest radio advert for a Mercedes E-Class, which is running in the UK.

The advert goes something like:

My name is Christian Slater. The craziest thing I ever did has to hitchhike from Bitterwater to San Benito in a 110 degree heat. Nobody stopped,   I had nothing to drink, my mouth was dry,  every car that drove past kicked up a little more dust, and my mouth got a little dryer.  I wondered if it was possible to die of thirst right there in broad daylight on Highway 101.

I started walking and then I saw it, an orange grove. Man I picked the biggest sucker I could find.

But do you know what, I peeled that orange real slow, divided it up and only then did I put a piece in my mouth, and let that sweet sharp juice come flowing out.

I’ve eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world but nothing’s ever tasted as good as that orange, that day.

Pleasure comes in many forms, the new E class From Mercedes Benz is just the latest.

 

There is another from Danny Glover relating how he listened to Miles Davies at the back door of a club in New York and Philip Glenister on the sweet sensation of a well hit golf ball. You can listen to them here.

Maybe it is just because I am a good fit for their target market, but to me these adverts are far more powerful than ones which list the number of BHP, the MPG, the size of the boot or the quality of the build.

So next time your are giving a presentation, instead of listing off the features and benefits, try telling a story instead. Involve all the senses and you may just find another way to give your audience pleasure and yourself some satisfaction.


%d bloggers like this: