You’ve spent a lot of time and energy to craft your message. All the while, knowing you get one shot at communicating (kind of like this blog, perhaps?) – with little feedback. Your data is organized. Your flow, impeccable. But there’s one more element of the presentation you need to ensure. And it’s a big one. It’s the interpretation of your message. What will your audience leave with? What will they remember?
If you have watched the recent presidential debates I think the best part is what happens afterwards. The candidates or their “spin doctors” crowd into the press room each trying to “interpret” what you just heard. What they “really” meant. Why politicians can’t just use plain english like the rest of us is for another post. Perhaps they just didn’t remember to use “The Rule of Threes”.
Maybe they didn’t:
- Use three different ways to communicate the message such as a story, an example, or a memorable sentence.
- Use three different facts, data, or information to support their conclusions.
- Repeat the message three times throughout the presentation. Repetition helps people retain the message that needs to be remembered.
Take a moment to look at your presentation. Where can you incorporate the Rule of Threes in your presentation?
Presentations always have a time limit. Always. Isn’t it fascinating most people believe they have to use every second? Why?
A presentation is not about filling a time slot but rather it’s about getting your message across and having it remembered. It’s how you use the minutes and not about using all the minutes. Quantity or quality? You get to decide.
Here’s “10” thought starters you can use the next time it’s your turn to plan the meeting’s message.
Think about how you will:
1. Gain your audience’s attention.
Snoopy always started his stories with, “It was a dark and stormy night…” What’s your opening? Your opening draws the audience into your idea. Stories are a good way to focus a group on a concept. A strong visual may work too.
2. Keep their attention through the “boring bits.”
“When the eyes glaze, it’s time to raise…” your game. Voice inflection, planned movement (hand gestures, walking across the stage) and well done visuals are ways to keep regenerating your audience’s attention.
3. Own the conclusion.
After all the preparation, your conclusions must be the strongest part of your presentation. Is your conclusion a “?” “!” “.” Your ending has to be as strong as the opening.
4. Prepare for the questions.
I’ve yet to see a presenter who did such a terrific job that there were no questions. Having back-up slides to address questions that may be asked keeps an audience from getting off track from your message. While you cannot be prepared for every question, you can be prepared for the most likely.
5, (and 6, and 7, and 8, and 9, and 10.) Practice your pitch.
Be sure you are able to deliver your message in less time than allotted. Meetings can get cut short. Life happens. Are you prepared for this? If you are organized in thought and prepared in your delivery you will be showing respect to your audience.
Communication comes in many forms: Verbal, Pictorial, Written, Body Language. All of which are critical when seeking to “get your message across”. How many meetings or presentations have you sat through where the speaker doesn’t connect with the audience and sadly, the well-intentioned message doesn’t make the leap from speaker to where you sat? How do you avoid this from happening to your next presentation?
In a word, “Integration”. When it’s your turn to stand in front of an audience and deliver a message, remember to “Integrate” these forms to create a cohesive moment between you and your audience. If in doubt of what this looks like – go watch some TED talks for inspiration.
I recently sat through a significant number of back to back presentations – from multiple presenters on multiple topics; summations, action plans, goal forecasting, and everything in-between. There was a range of what I would call, delivery success. Delivery success, to my way of thinking, is when your message connects with the audience in the way you intended. The audience walks out of the room owning your message. Think of it this way. You’re the UPS driver. The package is the message. The homeowner is your audience. When you ring the doorbell, the homeowner signs for the delivery. The homeowner now has the package and uses it. They own it. Transaction complete. Successful transfer.
Public speaking ranks up there in the top 10 fears for many people. Most of us would rather deliver one on one messages than to have to stand in the front of the room. As business leaders, a key deliverable of your job is to give presentations that, like the UPS driver, delivers the message safe and sound. And how you choose to integrate the Verbal, Pictorial, Written, and Body Language can make the difference in your ability to bring business success.
Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some key components in ensuring delivery success in a presentation.
1. Know what message you want to deliver.
2. Don’t assume everyone knows what you know.
3. Use your limited time well.
4. Incorporate pictures that are worth a thousand words, not a thousand questions.
5. Manage your audience’s interpretation to ensure your message is heard.