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Making Your Presentation Worth the Cost

Making Your Presentation Worth the Cost

    Let’s face it, no matter what your business is, or who you work for, the chances are that you’ve been on the receiving end of bad presentations. My working definition of a bad presentation here is one that costs more than it saves or makes for the organization involved. If it’s a business presentation, that’s obviously the company employing whoever the presentation involves – there’s always (almost always) someone who’s responsible.

    Of course, it’s hard to work out how much a presentation will save or make for the organization in the long run: on the other hand, the costs are pretty easy to calculate. Firstly take the hourly rate of pay for everyone in the room and double it – because that’s what it costs the company. Now add the double-day-rate costs for each hour the presenter spent getting things ready. Finally, add the obvious costs for room rent, refreshments and any travel costs for everyone. It won’t be long before such presentations begin to cost thousands of dollars an hour. And that’s before you add in the costs of lowered productivity and damaged moralle.

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    And yet a cost-effective presentation isn’t difficult. You don’t have to be great – just good enough to justify your costs!

    All a presenter has to do in a presentation is think of two things.

    • What do I need to tell my audience?
    • How do I need to tell them it?

    Whatever else you do, or don’t do in your presentation should be measured up against those two simple criteria. The Devil is in the details, of course, and sometimes it’s hard to know how to answer those two questions – to be honest, most presenters don’t even bother to ask them so if you do, you’ve a good chance of being a cost-effective presenter.

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    Less is more

    The more a presenter tells his or her audience, the less chance there is of them remembering any given thing they’re told. With that in mind, it’s not hard to get the idea that you should filter out everything – and I mean everything – that isn’t your absolute core message.

    For every slide, for every paragraph, every image, ask yourself, one slide at a time, “Does this give my audience something they need to know?” If it does, fine. If it doesn’t, ditch it. Once you’ve done that filtering, give yourself a break that’s long enough to mean you come back to the material with a fresh mind-set – and do another filter.

    Two hours doing something else is minimum. Two filters is usually enough because of the next point.

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    Too much is never enough

    Only experts make presentations. By definition if you’re giving the presentation you know more about your presentation than anyone else. That almost always means you know more about the material, too, so don’t be put off by thinking other people know more than you do. That’s great. What it can mean, if you’re not careful, however, is that you begin to take things for granted that your audience needs to know.

    They won’t know your jargon, they won’t know your workings and they won’t know any of your assumptions, that is unless you tell them.

    Once you’ve done your filtering do your checking for assumptions. Just like you went through every slide and every paragraph and every image, go through them again and ask yourself what each is built on. If it’s not built on the previous paragraph or slide then at the very least it’s in the wrong place.

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    More likely, however, is the problem that you’ve taken something for granted, something that your audience probably won’t know about. You need to put that – whatever it is – into your presentation.

    What’s next?

    Not much, to be honest – there’s a whole load of tips and tricks for moving your presentations from ‘good enough’ to ‘good’ but from the point of view of your boss, ‘good enough’ is exactly that. And you can bet your bottom dollar that your boss measures ‘good enough’ as not costing more than it’s worth.

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    Last Updated on December 2, 2018

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

    When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

    You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

    1. Connecting them with each other

    Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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    It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

    2. Connect with their emotions

    Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

    For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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    3. Keep going back to the beginning

    Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

    On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

    4. Link to your audience’s motivation

    After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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    Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

    5. Entertain them

    While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

    Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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    6. Appeal to loyalty

    Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

    In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

    7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

    Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

    Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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