To get the best results from a presentation, you need to think about the “why.” Why are you doing the presentation? If someone else assigned it to you, why? What is the goal of the presentation?
There are lots of possible goals. Often, I see other presentation skills trainers make blanket statements that I know don’t apply in every situation. For example, they might say that you should always stand up or not use PowerPoint.
How you write, design and deliver your presentation should depend on 4 things:
- Context: What is the reason for the presentation (the why)?
- Audience: Their knowledge, what they need and what they want
- Speaker: The speaker’s knowledge, solution, suggestions and evidence
- Action: How people apply the knowledge and solution
Know the context
It’s so easy to miss the mark when you don’t know the context, the why.
I remember watching a video of a presentation given to some reporters in the context of a concert that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr gave in New York City a few years ago. It was a benefit concert to raise money to teach at-risk middle school children the Transcendental Meditation technique to reduce the stress they were experiencing.
The context of the presentation was that the reporters were there because of the Beatles. The organizers wanted them to put some mention of the research in their articles. This was actually a challenge, because the reporters didn’t really care about the research, so there was quite a bit of persuasion required.
This wasn’t the time to give a dry presentation showing scientific charts. It was the time to highlight the stress that the students were experiencing (almost half had metabolic syndrome, which often develops into diabetes and is related to stress) and show some of the results students had gained from TM–with just a smidgen of charts to make the point.
To avoid missing the mark, think about the context before you develop your presentation.
Know your audience
It isn’t always easy to get a good handle on what your audience wants or needs. I’ve had this experience myself. But when you nail it, you can really fly. One of the best ways is to ask, either before or during the presentation. Sometimes, such as when you’re presenting at a conference and have everything prepared and practiced, this isn’t easy. Nevertheless, asking questions is always a good idea.
The more you know, the better you can structure your presentation to be helpful to your audience.
Provide your solution
Most of the time, the audience wants a solution. Sometimes, they don’t, such as when you’ve been asked to do some research and present it so others can make a decision. But suggestions are usually welcome (or should be). Don’t be afraid to state your own opinions and thoughts. This is how you gain respect and trust.
In almost all situations, you want people to act. They might:
- Make a decision
- Apply a technique
- Change their behavior
It’s your job to inspire that action. You can help by asking people to act and providing a picture of the benefits of that action, whether it’s a better life, more profits, or the completion of a project.
What has worked for you when you want to ace a presentation? Leave a comment! And please share with the Share buttons below so others can benefit as well.