It’s a beautiful summer day. The sun is shining outside, and you are desperate for the moment you end your working day and enjoy the weather with your friends. The clock is moving and the day is almost finished when suddenly you receive an urgent request from a colleague; asking you to attend his meeting which will start after 2 hours. Feeling angry because of the short notice invitation, you decided to extend your working hours and to participate.
When you enter the meeting room, you find your colleague standing there beside the projector and his laptop, putting some slides on the screen and ready to get rolling.
5 minutes passed, then 10, 20, half an hour and you still do not understand the purpose of the presentation or the meeting in general. On top of that, the presenter was speaking in a standard monotonic way which made almost all the attendees feel bored and about to sleep; while hoping that the fire alarm in the building goes on so that they can find a way to escape this meeting.
After a while, and without any clues, the presenter said ‘’Thank you,’’ and you suddenly discover that he finished his presentation.
Ever passed through a similar situation before?
Majority of people do not realize the impact of an excellent presentation and how it can help in selling their ideas to the audience. And unfortunately, most of the business professionals spend less time focusing on choosing the right content, design, and preparation of a presentation; than they spend on their lunchtime.
In fact, in the corporate world, I can assume with no doubt that at least 80% of business presentations exchanged between departments are just copy-pasted ones. Have you an important presentation to prepare? You ask one of your colleagues who did a similar one before to send you his presentation, you receive it, change the content and maybe a little bit of the design, and voila……you have a presentation. And that’s why they are catastrophic.
So maybe a good starting point is to ask ourselves first: ‘’what is a great presentation?’’, then we can move on to know why are they catastrophic.
From my point of view and in a straightforward way, a great presentation is one which serves the needs of both the presenter and the audience. The presenter by reaching his primary target of the presentation – no matter if its objective is to inspire, persuade or to inform..etc.- and the audience to feel not bored- or in other words to feel engaged- and to have an added value from the content of the presentation. As simple as that.
The real problem is that we do not know our role in this constant loop. We attend a meeting, make fun and criticize the person who delivers a lousy presentation and we make jokes about his way of delivering the message, the content…etc, while at the same time we are doing almost the same when we have a business presentation to prepare.
So in this article, i will attract your attention towards some of the most important ‘’preparation questions’’ which seem trivial (and that’s why they are usually ignored), but they are essential to transforming your presentation from a catastrophic one to a successful one :
1- How much time do you invest in preparing a presentation?
2- How do you prepare your presentation’s introduction? Is your introduction boring and standard, or are you capable of attracting your audience’s attention as soon as you start speaking? And if it’s boring, how can you make it exciting and unique?
Most of the business presentations in the meetings that I attend starts with ‘’Hello, my name is xxx, and I will be speaking to you today about xxx’’
3- How do you prepare your closing? Do you just systematically end with the famous ‘’Thank you’’ or ‘’Questions’’ words, or are you trying to be creative?
4- Finally, how do you plan your transitions? And transitions here means how you move from one point to another smoothly and in rhythm as if you are telling a story. And how do you make transitions from one slide to another?
After answering the four questions above, remember this one important rule: ‘’The success or failure of your presentation is directly equivalent to how much the people will remember from it after they leave the room’’. How to make them remember? The answer is simple: ‘’be creative to be memorable’’ because that’s what will separate your Presentation from the norm.
As an example, I bet you attended a meeting before where you felt that the presenter is not able to connect the points and slides with each other, and at the end, he surprised you by ending the presentation by saying ‘’thank you’’ and without preparing you for the finale. On top of that, the next day you almost remembered nothing from what he said. You know why? Because either he did not consider the four questions above or he underestimated them.
When business people prepare a presentation, all what they mainly invest time on (if they invested time) is the content such as the facts, numbers, arguments…etc. Which should be included to support their target of the presentation, and they succeed in overwhelming the audience with lots of information. But they forget one fact, that the audience or listeners are also human beings that can get distracted and bored, and that this information will not be of a real benefit if the speaker did not attract the attention of the audience and make them focus on what he is saying.
And when they try to prepare for the delivery of the content, they only try to memorize what’s on the slides, while in a matter of fact what’s not on the slides is more important. And that’s why when you-as an audience member- hear them; you feel that they are not convincing and that there is no real flow.
Mahatma Gandhi said: ‘’be the change that you wish to see in the world’’. So if you do not like the number of horrible presentations that you see in the meetings that you attend, then save the world one other catastrophic presentation by taking care of the above mentioned four points and preparing them in advance.
The preparation will take time from you. But when you finish your presentation and smell success in the air and see people praise your presentation skills, you will forget every moment of effort you invested in the preparation.
In the next upcoming weeks, we will tackle other essential factors of ‘’building’’ an excellent presentation.