Do You Want to Improve the Content of Your Presentations?

As outlined in my recent newsletter, there are three key elements that can significantly improve your presentation skills. Today, I will focus on the first one, Content.\r\n\r\nContent is the aggregate of all the information you plan to present. Rather than randomly structuring your ideas, you should organize them so they are easy for the audience to understand and remember.\r\n\r\nThe structure I follow is based on the one outlined in the book As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick, written by leadership trainer and consultant Peter Meyers and performance coach Shann Nix:\r\n\r\n1. The beginning (Ramp): The goal here is to immediately engage the attention of the audience. This is not about you as the presenter, but rather about each individual sitting in the audience: What’s in it for them? Why should they listen to you for the rest of your presentation? I always try to follow the “Seven Second Rule”: I only have seven seconds to convince the audience that they should pay attention to me.\r\n\r\n2. The middle (Discovery): This is the section where you provide interesting and relevant insights to the audience. The key suggestion here is to follow “The Rule of Three”: Organize your message into no more than three points. I actually learned this over three decades ago, in my early years with Procter & Gamble. We were taught to follow this rule in every written and verbal communication. It has to do with the ability of the audience to digest and remember the information being presented. The higher the number of points covered, the higher the chance that few or none will be remembered. You will always be tempted to add a fourth or fifth point. Resist the temptation, and either combine these additional points with the three you already have or drop them.\r\n\r\n3. The end (Dessert): Instead of ending with the usual Q&A, regain control of the presentation by finishing on a high note. The goal is to create an emotion that will “stick” with the audience. Although I am still learning to master this tip, I am nevertheless using it as part of every presentation I give. The challenge I usually face is time management: how to make sure I cut the Q&A section with still a few minutes left for the dessert so I don’t have to rush the ending.\r\n\r\nNext Monday I will cover the second element of strong presentations: Delivery. Stay tuned!\r\n\r\nPercy M. Cannon\r\nAuthor, Speaker, Consultant, Facilitator & Coach\r\

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