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An idea is powerless unless it is conveyed in a way that resonates with an audience. Delivering a dreadful presentation could cause your innovation to fail or seriously harm your brand’s reputation.
In this two-part blog post, we outline how to avoid delivering an unbelievably bad presentation. Part one will dive into how to formulate a strategic presentation and part two will focus on designing a creative presentation that will inspire your audience.
I have never been captured doing anything on video that would be worthy of a spot on America’s Funniest Home Videos but those that know me well have heard of at least one of my embarrassing moments. You could say I am a bit of a klutz.
I dread finding myself in these types of situations. When my face turns 3 shades of red and feels like I have been roasting in the sun all day. When my pulse is racing and the beat of my heart pounds in my head like the loudest most annoying toy my child can’t seem to tire of. They are times when you feel like everyone is watching you and you will never recover from the embarrassment and unwanted attention.
What would have made any of these moments more devastating is if it had been in a corporate setting and I had been presenting and representing my employer.
Do you lose countless hours of sleep if you are asked to present? If you do, you’re among the 40% of respondents in a Gallup poll that suffer from glossophobia (a fear of public speaking). This could be a contributing factor in why people deliver less then stellar presentations. I don’t have a fear of presenting but I would be lying if I said I don’t get nervous.
Presentations are really unavoidable. They allow for more customized messaging and creative narrative, as well as, personal interaction with your audience. Presentations are effective for communicating your brand story and should be an integral part of any brand strategy.
Here is a strategy that will help you avoid the stress and fear of delivering an unbelievably bad presentation.
Start with a Plan and Know Your Audience
The best presenters often work through their ideas and objectives on paper before they even consider opening up PowerPoint or any another presentation platform. Starting to work directly on the slides would be like a movie director hiring actors/actresses and starting to film before having the script in hand.
One of the world’s leading experts in professional storytelling, Nancy Duarte, recommends answering the following questions before building out a presentation:
- Who am I talking to?
- What do they need for their next big decision?
- What’s the answer I have for them?
If you want your audience’s undivided attention, your presentation should be strategically tailored to their requirements and expectations.
Make sure you do your research and, if possible, find out exactly who will be attending. Look into their interest, needs, and their knowledge on your topic then choose your language and visuals accordingly. A selective mixture of vocabulary and imagery can mean the difference between a confusing presentation and one that resonates with your listeners.
If this is not possible, as in the case of inviting prospects via targeted ads, be consistent with your messaging.
Your invitation, ads, and promotional materials all had a specific audience in mind. Understanding your target audience is the most powerful brain tool. Your presentation should be focused on that audience and deliver what was promised. Otherwise you may be perceived as lacking credibility and unprofessional which could negatively impact your brand’s reputation.
You also need to take into consideration how much time you have to present and be sure to include the most essential details. Make sure your key objectives are clear and concise. Your audience often doesn’t care about all the research data you have collected and analyzed. They want to hear the insights.
Tell a Story
Ideas are conveyed most effectively through the use of stories. Stories make emotional connections and drastically increase action. They can invoke a physically reaction from your audience (getting goose bumps or being moved to tears).
Successful brands know data doesn’t drive interest but a great story does. Sharing personal stories as an experience is easier to talk about and is more authentic.
Consider structuring your presentation as if it were a blockbuster movie. Just like all great films, a strong beginning or hook is crucial to grab the attention of your audience. Look at using a lively or emotional example/case study or quote. You will also want to establish a goal the likeable hero in your story will want to attain.
Next a movie would have a climax which is where the story peaks on a build up of crucial turning points. It is at its highest tension and drama and the challenges or road blocks faced by the hero are unveiled.
It is important to create a narrative that flows seamlessly through your slides so you can end the presentation with a logical and persuasive conclusion. This is where your hero has undergone some sort of transformation or there is a resolution and the goal is reached.
It is a good idea to include a summary slide that highlights your key points. End with something inspiring. It isn’t necessary to have a thank you slide. Make sure to also feature a call-to-action you would like your audience to take.
If you want your audience to remember your content, then find a way to make it relevant and memorable to them through stories.
Include A Novel Idea
One of the most recognized and watched presentations are TED Talks which are short powerful talks that cover almost any topic, from science to business to global issues, in more than 100 languages.
In her TED Talk, Nancy Duarte discloses a similar presentation structure and how to incorporate story into presentations. She explains having to establish the status quo at the beginning of a presentation and comparing that to your idea and what could be. It is important to make that gap as big as possible so there is a big contrast between what is currently happening and the loftiness of your idea. What the future could hold with a problem removed.
Taking in and understanding new ideas taxes the brain. Studies have shown that novelty actually increases the brain’s plasticity, which improves memory, and your ability to learn and process new facts and ideas.
Don’t be afraid to present novelty or innovative ideas that shape your brand as it will create excitement within your audience.
Use Simple but Powerful Language
Along with novelty we also mentally crave consistency and familiarity. When your brain is able to understand the concept completely without translation we call this cognitive fluency.
You should be able to convey your brand message or idea in the simplest of terms. Use simple language free of jargon that will be easily understood by your audience.
Keep in mind the impact your words can have. You can harness the power of words to strengthen your brand which is conveyed in this promotional video for Andrea Gardner’s book,
“Change Your Words, Change Your World”.
Sticking to one main idea per slide will keep your presentation structured and ensure your audience easily consumes your content. Overcrowding your slides with multiple ideas or excessive text is very distracting and can shred your brand’s authority. Ideally you should stick to 6-10 words per slide.
Slides are meant to support the narration of the speaker and in most cases are virtually meaningless without your spoken context. You should therefore never hand out slide print-outs or distribute the presentation to attendees or anyone that missed it following your talk.
Never use bullet points, they are a thing of the past, and studies have proven they are a detriment. Alternatively, highlight a few keywords or short phrases. Better yet, rely on the visual alone with no text at all. The less clutter you have on your slide, the more powerful your visual message will become.
So before you get hung up on all the ways you could botch-up your strategic presentation and tarnish your brand’s reputation, implement these tips to ensure your audience adopts your novel idea or concept.
You need to perfect how you communicate your ideas and the brand strategy behind inspiring your audience to act.
Part two of this blog post on July 21st, will focus on presentation design and what you should do to creatively engage your audience. This will ensure your presentation slides are a perfect compliment to your content and not an unprofessional visual mess. We’ll also be adding in some tips to perfect your delivery and speech.
Jennifer DalCin, Visual Content Marketing Manager, InnovaMap
InnovaMap – we use the science of content marketing to connect you with your target audience. Get our free ebook and learn the neuroscience of marketing to your ideal client or check out our eLearning course neuromarketing 101 – how to ignite your strategic marketing.
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