The Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, states that, in many situations, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. For example, Microsoft noted that by fixing the top 20% of the most reported bugs, 80% of the errors and crashes would be eliminated. In The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss, the author recommends focusing one’s attention on the 20% of tasks that contribute to 80% of one’s income.
What 20% of your time spent on presentations contributes to 80% of your results? And what is the time sink that takes up much of your time without yielding the results you want?
Many people spend 80% of their time on creating slides and 20% of their time on the following:
- Working on great content
- Finding the best way to show their message
- Delivering the presentation
Yet these 3 points provide most of the results you are looking to get from your presentation.
Here’s my list of quick ways you can improve your presentations a lot:
- Start by scheduling the time you need to prepare, including filling out a planner, writing your script, and speaking it out. When you speak it out, time it and record it. Listen to the recording and edit.
- Storyboard your slides, based on your planner. Figure out the best way to show your points, including data, images, video, and diagrams.
- Create a template or theme that you like and use it! You only need to do this once and it will save you time forever after.
- Create a custom color scheme/theme colors. Again, do this once and it will improve your presentations forever. It will also save you time reformatting objects on your slides over and over.
- Create your slides using the Tell ‘n’ ShowSM Method. I explain it here. It’s a simple method for designing slides that is quick and effective. Best of all, you don’t need to be a designer to get great results.
- Practice delivering your presentation several times until it’s smooth. Delivery is where the rubber hits the road, so you should never wing it.
What are your tips for quick ways to get major results? Leave a comment below!
Great article, Ellen. Your readers may also be interested in reading The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less, as well as a recent article I wrote on 80/20 sales presentations.
Thanks for the comment and link. Your article extends the concept nicely.
[…] Ellen Finkelstein’s blog, she teaches us 6 quick ways on how to improve our presentations 80% in 20% of our time. It’s a must read for presentation folks like me. Do visit her […]
concise and effective!
I think the Tell ‘n Show method makes so much sense. It’s not easy to sit through a long talk, even when the speaker is very compelling. It is also not easy to sit and read long sentences projected on a wall. However, if the speaker is talking a little, then showing something, then talking again, it keeps the audience from getting bored because they’re not doing the same task continuously. People like variety. The audience will most likely be a mix of people who learn by hearing, and those who learn by seeing. Delivering a PowerPoint directed to both… Read more »
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