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10 ideas (in 5 bullets) on using your presentation time well

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.

Be intentional

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

UPS drivers aren’t the only ones who deliver the “goods”

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.

Be intentional