Thursday, March 15, 2007

Give Sharp Focus to Your Presentations

The first thing speakers ask after finishing a presentation is, "How did that go?" Most people feel uncomfortable making presentations. They sense that they are not connecting with their audience. They are mostly right.

The best tip I give to nervous speakers is to know what you are trying to communicate. Just as companies need mission statements and teams need goals, speakers need a purpose to their presentations. Before you present, figure out what your purpose is. Many presenters share everything they know about a topic, rather than everything their audience needs to know. It is not good enough to say your purpose is to present all the slides in your PowerPoint deck. Typical good purposes are to teach people something, inspire them to do something, or change their opinion about something.

Once you are clear on your purpose, you need to brutally review your presentation against two tests:

  • Does my presentation achieve my goals? If not, add what you need to fix it.
  • Does anything in my presentation not advance my goals? If so, remove it.
Usually, this results in people greatly reducing the material they are presenting. It is a big change from sharing every bit of information you have about a topic. It always results in a better feeling about how the presentation went.


James Todhunter said...

Hi Ken,

This is great advice. Another thing I do, between the two steps you suggest, is to think of my presentation a telling a story. If my presentation has a logical flow and builds on the theme underlying the selected goal, the listener will find it easier to grasp key points. Try to avoid coming off as a stream of consciousness presenter.


Ken Flowers said...

Thanks Jim,

Your advice is great too. If we can get people to listen to us, maybe we can sit through fewer boring presentations.