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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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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