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7 Ways To Unleash Your Presentation Genius

7 Ways To Unleash Your Presentation Genius

Creativity, eloquence, and authenticity are by far the top 3 attributes in highest demand when it comes to presenting your ideas at work. We live in an age of unprecedented information besieged by data in a knowledge-based society where simply reading your PowerPoint slides to a busy audience is becoming a mortal sin, and thankfully so.

We are entering a new frontier of public speaking and presenting which demands that speakers do a great deal more than just impart information. Whether you are giving your regular quarterly update, briefing your team, or making a sales pitch, you need to capture and hold your audience’s attention in a way that is memorable, compelling, and even entertaining.

If presenting isn’t one of your natural gifts, then how on earth do you satisfy the merciless insistence of your audience to be different, to stand out from the crowd and keep them awake?

1. Think like a “tweet”

Think back to the last time you prepared for a presentation. Did you start by opening up your laptop and heading straight for a PowerPoint deck you have used before? Did you then re-order the bullet points with your new content, change the background, and throw in a few new pictures for good measure?

If you did, then essentially you handcuffed, gagged, and blindfolded your creative genius, and despite what you think, we all have one that is waiting to be unleashed.

Ironically, the future of high-impact presenting is analogue rather than digital.

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With a packet of large coloured post-it notes and a few Sharpie pens, begin crafting your own storyboard with a series of “tweets.”

On each post-it note, write down in less than 140 characters:

  • Your message
  • What you want your audience to think about your message
  • What you want them to feel about it
  • What you want them to do when you finish speaking

Now you have absolute clarity of what your objective and intention is, you can use the remaining post-it notes to creatively craft your story.

2. Billboards are best

Imagine you are driving down the street and your entire presentation unfolds before your very eyes in the form of a series of billboards which are each 48-feet long and 14-feet high. Each board contains a colourful and compelling image supported by a very short headline as your story gradually but powerfully unfolds step by step.

Each billboard grabs your attention and makes you want to know more.

Now, take your post-it notes and create your mini-series of billboards by filling them with simple hand-drawn images and headlines. Don’t worry about how well you can draw, it’s not important. Simply sketch what comes to mind, however basic it may look.

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3. Contrast is King

As your billboards begin to take shape, give some thought as to how you are going to build contrast into your presentation. As you craft each post-it note with an image or a headline, ask yourself what could help you to bring it to life even more:

  • A story
  • A prop
  • A short video or soundbite
  • A question
  • An exercise involving the audience

4. Take 7 steps

  • Set the scene – What’s so important that you couldn’t send an email?
  • Begin the journey – What’s the message, where are you taking them?
  • Encounter the obstacle – Why do they really need to go there?
  • Overcome the obstacle – How are you going to get them there?
  • Resolve the story – Now they are here, what does it look and feel like?
  • Make the point – Why is it so important?
  • Call to action – What do you want them to do now?

5. Give them their 3 F’s

Your listeners only want 3 things from you, so make sure you include them on your billboards.

Facts – features, benefits, data, logical argument, examples, case studies

Feeling – stories, metaphor, anecdotes, suspense, shock, humour, surprise

Future – 30 years ago, an old boss of mind gave me a piece of leadership advice which had a profound effect on my career. He said, “The only people who need to be motivated are the people who can’t see the future; your job is to help them to see the future.”

6. Shout, sing, scream, and sigh

Your voice is your greatest asset as a presenter, and when stretched, challenged, and tuned like the incredible instrument it is, it can help you to breathe life into your presentation.

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It takes effort, discipline, and practice to unlock the enormous potential and range of your voice and the way to do so is to exercise it.

Find a few random paragraphs from your favourite book and practice reading it out loud to yourself in as many different ways as you can; passionate, angry, sad, excited, etc.

7. Focus on their SHIFT

Every presentation is designed to create some form of shift in the audience. It may be a change of attitude, understanding, beliefs, or behaviour but at the heart of every speech is a desire to influence others in some way.

It is one thing knowing the direction you wish to take them in, but what is far more important is in understanding the SHIFT they would like to experience from listening to you.

Success – In crafting your presentation, ensure it’s designed to help them achieve some level of improvement in their personal or professional lives.

Happiness – Your audience wants to feel good and everything you say, show, and do should have that in mind.

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Insight – You are the expert on the subject and they want you to translate your knowledge in a way that they can really understand as well.

Freedom – Professionals are facing increasingly high-pressured demands at work and if you can free them in any way from some of that stress they will be very grateful.

Time – The one thing we all long for more of than anything is time. How does what you have to say help them to get more?

When it comes to presenting and speaking in public, many professionals live in a constant state of self-criticism.

Each of us has a presentation genius inside of us just waiting to be unleashed and to be heard. These 7 suggestions offer the key to unlocking that creative presentation genius and helping you to find your true voice.

Featured photo credit: Columbia GSAPP via flickr.com

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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