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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 October 22, 2020

      2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

      2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

      Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

      Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

      Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

      Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

      Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

      By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

      The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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      1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

      Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

      Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

      Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

      When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

      The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

      Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

      To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

      Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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      We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

      It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

      After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

      Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

      Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

      To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

      Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

      Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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      When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

      Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

      We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

      When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

      Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

      2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

      If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

      The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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      To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

      With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

      So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

      • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
      • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
      • Say no to all else.
      • Say no again.
      • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
      • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
      • Meditate.
      • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
      • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
      • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
      • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
      • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
      • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

      Final Thoughts

      These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

      Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

      More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

      Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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