In the hundreds of presentations, I have seen and there were very few that I would say moved me, made me want to act, created some interest or made me want to buy something. Rarely in those hours and hours of PowerPoint did I see anything mildly interesting. (And it wasn’t a chart!)
That is simply not effective. To be effective you have to be natural, be yourself … and tell a story. Tell a great story. TELL A COMPELLING STORY!
“But I work in a boring field. The stuff I have to present is boring!”
Your audience probably doesn’t think that, and moreover, you are not boring. People are looking and listening to you. You are interesting, fascinating, unique and I have never met anyone who did not have a great story. And all of those stories are fascinating.
We all know that most of the presentations at conferences and trade shows are, in fact, sales pitches.
So, why would you NOT take that opportunity to be really interesting? Cut through the clutter! People buy from people. And those people are trusted, interesting and they deliver results. At a conference you have a captive audience of potential customers. Use it to your advantage.
Why don’t you tell a story of an interesting client challenge you had? Make it a Case Study Mini-Play. What did they want? How did you strategize the solution? What happened next? Was there any tension or drama or timing issues in the delivery? How did you handle it? How did you solve it!
Here are Aristotle’s Six Elements of Drama
Aristotle considered these six things to be essential to good drama.
- Plot: This is what happens in the play. Plot refers to the action; the basic storyline of the play.
- Theme: While plot refers to the action of the play, theme refers to the meaning of the play. The theme is the main idea or lesson to be learned from the play. In some cases, the theme of a play is obvious; other times it is quite subtle.
- Characters: Characters are the people (sometimes animals or ideas) portrayed by the actors in the play. It is the characters who move the action, or plot, of the play forward.
- Dialogue: This refers to the words written by the playwright and spoken by the characters in the play. The dialogue helps move the action of the play along.
- Music/Rhythm: While music is often featured in drama, in this case Aristotle was referring to the rhythm of the actors’ voices as they speak.
- Spectacle: This refers to the visual elements of a play: sets, costumes, special effects, etc. The spectacle is everything that the audience sees as they watch the play.
In presenting, this list has changed slightly, although you will notice that many of the elements remain the same. The list of essential elements in presenting are:
These are the main ideas you want to convey – less is more. And no more than THREE!
The storyline. Is it seamless and linked? A solid beginning, interesting middle and fabulous ending.
Tone and manner of the presentation. start big, drop down and build to the climax.
The words you use must be powerful “speaking” words … not written words. You are an orator not a leader of a read along.
Always begin a presentation from the viewpoint of the audience. What are they looking for?
I always try and gauge the results of a presentation I have just witnessed. I ask others in attendance what they thought. The last conference was shocking – after one session almost all of the responses from the other attendees went from “OMG that was awful!” to “Why do I sit through these?”
Is that how you want your audience and perhaps your potential customers to react? I know I don’t.
A great presentation should end with audience members coming up to you after the session asking for more.
For more on Professional Presentation Skills check out my book.