It doesn’t matter whether you’re a senior exec at a Fortune 500 company or manage the A1 Car Wash in Albuquerque, the ability to communicate impacts job performance. For many, this extends to the dreaded presentation.
You can find advice on this topic rivaling how to lose weight and make money selling timeshare condos.
Here’s the problem. These so-called gurus always the say same thing.
- Use visuals, not bullets (oops)
- Stop jingling coins in your pocket.
- Don’t read your slides.
- If you use enough visuals, you won’t read your slides because there isn’t enough to read.
For those of us wired by words, this is a little like suggesting a tortoise would move faster using a skateboard.
That’s why I found Gavin McMahon’s recent webinar, #PresentBetter, so refreshing. Finally, here’s a roadmap and tips that didn’t require an MFA from Pratt to implement.
I encourage you to take in Gavin’s webinar which is available for playback on SlideShare. In the meantime, here are my CliffsNotes from the session.
Harmonize Words, Pictures and Structure
Words on slides aren’t the devil. You just need to use them the right way. Rather than skewer PowerPoint, use the platform to fill in the gaps on the area you don’t do particularly well. For example, if you’re an introverted soul, you might depend on the slide rather than oral communications to express a touch of levity in your storytelling.
I used the slide below in an internal presentation last year that absolutely bombed!
Take a chance or two understanding that not everything will work.
Start with the Question, Why Are You Presenting?
There are really only two reasons that people present, either to frame the way people see the world or to move people to action. In either case, recognize that the audience is asking, “What’s in it for me?” The alignment between the answers to the two questions becomes the foundation for your presentation.
Humans Aren’t Rational But They are Great Rationalizers
If you gravitate toward logic – I certainly count myself in this category – it can take a conscious effort to insert emotion into a presentation. Yet, it’s a must. As Gavin puts it, “Reason leads to judgment; emotion leads to action.” Again for introverts, emotive language on the actual slide might be a better approach than trying to channel a Meryl Streep performance.
I won’t numb you with studies from the wonderful world of neurology. In short, the science says If something looks good, we think it’s more truthful.
Create Visuals From Words
I’ve touched on this area before. Even though the vast majority of those in PR come to the profession through words, the right design touch can transform words into visuals (Just don’t expect “a word is worth a thousand pictures” to come to pass).
Look at how Gavin visually depicts what’s behind every presentation.
We’re talking 17 words and two interlocking circles.
Presentation Training 101 squeezes the discomfort out of people by putting them in uncomfortable situations again and again under the premise that they eventually will get comfortable.
Personally, I prefer the Gavin approach.
Then again, I’m an introvert.
Side note: For more on visual storytelling, you might check out “Visual Lessons from BusinessWeek.”