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How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro

How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro

The usual approach when preparing a presentation is putting the points into slides. But the best presentations do not seek to merely inform. They make a lasting mark. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech inspired a nation to reconsider their assumptions around race and social justice. Ronald Reagan’s speech in Berlin, delivered in 1987, wasn’t an objective remark on historical events. It was a passionate plea, an attempt to hasten the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Neither will be remembered for their PowerPoint presentations, but for their heartfelt messages.

Treat a presentation like a drama show

The best presentations are not collections of facts or statistics. They are stories, put together and performed with dramatic flair. The first question you need to ask yourself is this – “What is the point of this presentation?” Don’t start your preparations until you can provide a confident answer. What emotions are you looking to trigger in your audience? How exactly do you want to influence them, and what actions do you want them to take as a result of your presentation?

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There is much more to a speech than writing the words and moving through a set of key points written on a card or set of slides. How will you move around and vary your voice in such a way that emphasizes your message? Think about the gestures you can use, the facial expressions you will use, and how you will move around the stage.

A great speaker is the main actor/actress, not the backdrop

Most presentations are purely informative. The audience are directed to focus on the presentation slides rather than the person speaking. While if you want to leave an impression, you need to make yourself the focus. Presentation slides are just supplementary. Never, ever let them steal the limelight. See how Scott Dinsmore did that.

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How to make your audience listen to you attentively

To be the limelight on stage, you can’t just directly put all what you want to say on the slides. You need to carefully plan and edit every part.

Only talk about one key point at a time. Don’t be greedy

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    When you provide little on the slide like only one word in the middle, people will look to you for elaboration. When you put multiple points into a single slide, the audience will be so hard working digesting all the information on the slide. This doesn’t help them understand better as human’s brains aren’t designed for multi-tasking. The more points you want them to get, the less they can understand.

    Make sure people can get the gist within 3 seconds

    More than that it means the message isn’t conveyed clearly enough and people will zone out. They’ll completely ignore what you’re going to say even if your ideas are truly brilliant.

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    Always be economical. Cut everything that doesn’t serve a purpose

    Although it’s tempting to include all the interesting things you know/you found when doing research, these would only make your key message weaker if they aren’t highly relevant. Be bold to cut them whenever they don’t add value for the key message. It’s often not what’s added that matters, but what’s cut that matters.

    Illustrate your points with images

      This sounds contradictory but it’s not. When the image can catch audience’s attention and wake them up, you’re actually telling them to look at you again, that you’re going to raise a great point next. What’s more, people retain 10% of what they hear three days following a presentation, but if the information is accompanied by a picture, this figure jumps to 65%.[1]

      Always be specific

      Cliches are hardly memorable. Always add in additional details and fascinating statistics where possible to add character and interest. Like you could simply tell your audience that buying a car is an important decision, but a better approach is to reframe it in terms of numbers and emotions: “To buy a car it entails choosing a vehicle that helps you make memories, that will keep your life running smoothly, and transports you and your loved ones over 13,000 miles each year.”[2] Specific facts and emotive stories will give you a direct line to your audience’s hearts, and you are sure to leave a great impression.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Brian Lee

      Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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      Last Updated on March 23, 2021

      Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

      Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

      One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

      The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

      You need more than time management. You need energy management

      1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

      How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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      I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

      I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

      2. Determine your “peak hours”

      Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

      Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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      My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

      In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

      Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

      3. Block those high-energy hours

      Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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      Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

      If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

      That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

      There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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      Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

      Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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