Why are some presentations great and others horribly boring?
There are two presentation skills that separate great presenters from the rest of us:
- They always have a goal.
- They make certain that every presentation has a point.
The goal could be a company goal, like more sales, generating investment, or making the working environment better.
It could be personal, like being seen as an expert, getting support for your ideas, or increasing your network.
Or it could even be a community goal, like reducing CO2 emissions, or changing the way we do presentations…
Goals are usually big and important and not easily attainable in 20 minutes.
A point, however, is how you are going to achieve your goal today, in this presentation.
The point is the reason for the presentation. It is the next step towards your goal.
What’s the point?
What’s the point of your presentation, and how do you find it?
You can usually locate your point in the statements “What I’m trying to say is…” , “What I really think we should do is…”, or “Here’s what I want to happen…”
The consulting firm McKinsey encourages its employees to state the client’s problem, to state their solution, and then spend the rest of the presentation explaining why their solution works. When they state the solution, they are stating their point.
In a sales presentation, your point might be, “You should buy this product, because it will solve your problems in the following three ways…”
When presenting your idea, your point might be, “My idea is the best, and you should support it because it is beneficial in the following three ways…”
When changing the world, your point might be, “We need to take these specific actions, for the following three reasons…”
When you have a point, you have the beginning of a structure.
When you have a structure, not only do you start making sense, but you also unlock the door to two other presentation essentials: motivating your audience and getting your nerves under control. What could be better than that?
Your point is also great to use as a title, if your presentation will be publicized.
Finally, if you are clever, you can restate your point as a call to action, which is the way to help your audience achieve your goal.
- Stay far away from your computer at first. The computer is just going to waste your time right now.
- Instead, find a notebook, or notecards, or a large pile of PostIt notes, and start writing down all your ideas – all the stuff that you would like to talk about. These ideas will come at odd moments. Capture them, collect them and keep them in a safe place.
- Ask yourself the two most important questions:
- What is my goal? (In other words: Do you want more sales? More partners? Expert status? World domination?)
- What is the point of this presentation? (In other words: How are you going to achieve your goal in the 20 minutes of this presentation?)
- Go through your notecards or PostIts and take away all the ideas that don’t have anything to do with your goal or your point. What’s left is the core of your presentation. You now know what you don’t have yet. Go find it. (By the way, don’t throw away all the other stuff. Some of it will be essential for Q&A. Some of it will be great for another presentation. Some of it will, indeed, be junk.)
- Contact a presentation agency for help on what to say, how to say it, and how to present it effectively. Accountants save you time and money with your taxes. Presentation professionals save you energy and stress with assembling and practicing your presentations.
When I give a presentation, I make two notecards: one with my goal, and one with my point. They stay with me the entire time I am preparing the presentation and let me know what to include in the presentation. They also make it much easier to decide what to leave out.
Finally, I look at these two cards before I go on stage. It keeps me focused and gives me a chance at making sense. After all, the goal and the point are why I am giving the presentation.
A good presentation is always about something. It has a reason, a point. Start there.
If there is no point, there is no communication.
If there is no communication, then you may as well hand out pillows and blankets, because your audience will fall asleep…
If you want some further presentation advice, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Talbott founded TIP (Talbott International Presentations) in 2012 with the ambition to make the world more interesting, one presentation at a time. He is internationally recognized for helping his clients create and deliver presentations that go straight to the point and achieve results. He has helped hundreds of people and companies improve their pitches (small presentations), which has led to a direct increase in their bottom line. For longer presentations, his clients have included both small and multinational companies, non-profits, start-ups and political parties. TIP is based in The Hague in the Netherlands.
Copyright © 2014, Jonathan Talbott