Some Principles of Presentations and Pitches
post # 196 — September 21, 2006 — a Client Relations post
When giving a presentation, you can focus on one of three things: your material (we must cover all these slides), yourself (let me impress you), or your audience (let me serve you in some way). Guess which it should be.
Make sure you address the audience’s needs, concerns, wants — not yours. They will give you back what you want if you serve them first.
Nothing is more guaranteed to lose an audience than forcing them to sit in a darkened room watching someone go through a fixed, invariant set of slides, no matter how insightful or attractive. Turn the house lights full up so you can see everyone. Hand out copies of all your slides in advance. Work to EARN your audience’s attention. Don’t try to control their attention – they will just resent it.
If you get through all your material, the presentation is a failure. If you cover your all of your material, you obviously did not engage and were not interrupted enough by the audience’s questions.
Clear exposition is rare and immensely valuable; get all the help you can get. Rehearse with an audience who have been given permission to critique.
When giving a presentation, write down in advance (just for your own benefit) the major points you want your audience to walk away with. If it doesn’t fit on one small card, your presentation is too unfocused.
Don’t underestimate the value of a nicely turned phase: Make it memorable! Try to find the phrase that summarizes the paragraph, the slogan that summarizes the key thought, the restatement that reminds them of your theme. Open with it. End with it.
Agreements? Disagreements? Other thoughts?
Laura Hunter said:
Re: your last two points — a former professor of mine (Lee Heubner) wrote for President Nixon and told us that every speech would come back with a phrase in red grease-pencil, “Where’s tomorrow’s headline?”… meaning, “write me an elegant, memorable phrase that sums up what I’m trying to say so the reporter doesn’t have to think too hard.” Keeping that in mind as I write/edit has certainly helped me keep it more focused.
posted on September 22, 2006