In the big scheme of things, this is a pretty straight-forward latte order. And Kristin at the a small latte stand in a obscure parking lot in Newberg, OR produces it with amazing consistency. You would think that simple order would produce the same result whether I’m buying one in Newberg or Boston but it doesn’t and never has. Even though everyone uses pretty much the same ingredients (milk, chocolate, whip cream), the results are dramatically different every time I get one. What’s up?
The ingredients in the presentation process are pretty standard too. You take one part laptop computer, 2 parts PowerPoint presentation, add a remote pointing device and an electronic projector and you have a presentation. You’ve experienced one – you’ve experienced them all. But despite having the same basic elements available to all of us, the outcomes could not be more different. And the results may not always leave a very good after taste. Here are a few observations for your consideration…
The magic is always in the hands of the barista, not the ingredients – Kristin does this all the time. And she has developed a process that is the same every day. If you don’t present often, you most likely will find yourself changing your message/ design routine every time you approach a new presentation. Here are a few tips for you…
1. Use a consistent messaging process. Starting at slide one and cobbling together a presentation from the last 5 you’ve done is sure to create a patchwork quilt message you may feel comfortable “giving”, but one that others will struggle to “get”. Often times a 7-step messaging model we use provides clear guidance for shaping a presentation that is meaningful to your audience.
1- Identify a common audience issue(s), validate during the presentation
2- Articulate the impact using their words (morale, productivity, profitability…)
3- What do they need to resolve the challenge?
4– Offer a crisp & relevant solution tied to needs. KISS principle in effect.
5– Identify the benefits of the solution.
(FYI – features are product attributes, benefits are how it resolves step 1 issues)
6 – What makes your solution different from others? (Typically very weak)
7 – Validate with case study. (Psychological principle of Social Proof)
Conclusion – Execute a crisp Summary (1 slide) and Close (relevant story)
2. Less is ALWAYS more in this unique medium. It may seem counter-intuitive but the more you have on screen, the less people will get. It’s a fact. Research has proven it time and time again. Every audience you meet will validate this fact. YET… 90% of all presenters (pre-occupied with “giving” the presentation) will overbuild their visuals.
3. All ingredients are not created equal. I found that my coffee place uses Ghirardelli powdered chocolate while so many others use cheap syrup. That made all the difference. Not all presentation components are the same either. Although your laptop, projector and pointing device give you all the basics, your PowerPoint is the deal breaker. And know this, poorly created PowerPoint destroys even good presenters. When it’s obvious your text-heavy, overwhelming visuals are playing the presenter like a marionette, you’ve lost the battle and your audience knows it. Here’s how you’ll know if you’re a slave to your PowerPoint…
a) You find yourself turning frequently to the screen because you are fearful of missing a bullet.
Remedy– Talk to the essence of the slide and only call out a single bullet or two to elaborate. Building each bullet creates bullet readers.
b) Your bullets wrap and you use sub-bullets and maybe even sub-sub bullets!
Remedy- Get rid of them! If you can’t keep bullets to one line, you are not in the driver’s seat. Sub-bullets are just crutch talking points for unprepared presenters
c) Your audience can’t get the gist of your slide in 7-seconds
Remedy- Use the 7 second rule to minimize visual concepts or build them on a mouse-click. Just this one idea will make you better than 80% of presenters!
When I’m on the road, I know I’m taking my chances with my double-20 ounce mocha but I take my chances anyhow. Why? Because of the hope it just may be better at the next place. There is no greater legacy for a presenter then someone who has a consistent track record of pleasantly surprising your audience with crisp, clear messages, cleanly illustrated and delivered with confidence & passion. That will always keep them coming back for more.