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Data can be read – information must be presented. So what’s a presenter to do?

Continuing last week’s thought…

Seldom have I been asked to give a presentation on the topic of my choice. If so, I would have already talked about my husband’s love affair with remote controls. But alas, that’s for another post.

Typically, it’s more like… my boss wants me to present “something”, or report out on “something”. I get an agenda item (usually 5 words or less) being told to “present on this”. I have watched countless presenters use the agenda item as the “something” with no thought as to what the “message” about the “something”, or the meaning behind the topic. The results being that the audience walked away scratching their heads asking what was said and more importantly, why?

1. Know what message you want to deliver

Every “something” has sub-content. If it was just the “something”, a simple email would suffice. You, as the presenter, have been given a very valuable item – uninterrupted time of people to listen to you communicate a message.

What message do you want everyone to remember about the “something”? Identify the key takeaway(s). Keep it simple. At most, you can make 2 – 3 key, memorable messages. More than that and folks go to “blah-blah land”.  Think of all the presentations you saw this week. What messages do you remember?

If you have been asked to present the sales numbers – that does not mean read the sales numbers. Instead, tell us what the numbers mean. What does the team need to know about the numbers?  Is the trend line a concern? Is there a call to action? Are the new initiatives paying off? Data can be read – information must be presented. You’re the expert – please interpret the data for us, your audience.

In 10 words or less, write down each of your key messages. If you cannot articulate each message, you will not be able to present it no matter how many pretty slides. Spending time clarifying the message will help you craft memorable slides.

Timing is everything. Is it the right time, place, and audience for the message? Just because you want it to be the message, is it the message that will make the team stronger and more successful? You have been given the proverbial “bully pulpit”. Use it wisely, otherwise you might not get asked back. Or if you do, everyone will tune out. Sometimes the key message is to let folks know that “I have everything under control” so they can stop worrying.

Identify the messaging. Use supporting data. Present well. Easy, right?

Be intentional