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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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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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