Blog Archives

Make a presentation in 5 steps (5): Content

There are lots of different types of presentation content and its important to treat it all well. Focus on the minimum effective dose. This post explains how.

(If you haven’t aleady seen the overview blog-spot for making effective presentations, read this first)

 

Develop content in order to deliver the minimum effective dose

Now it is time to create the content for your presentation – if you are like most people, this will either mean copy/pasting from previous presentations or putting in everything you know about the topic and then cutting out as much as necessary to make it fit into the time slot you have been given. Try applying the lessons in this blog-spot instead!

 

First of all: Don’t grab everything and then cut out in order to be on time or be less boring – you have to think about BUILDING your presentation up instead of cutting down from your 100% knowledge of the topic. Concentrate on the minimum effective dose!

 

The minimum effective dose is a concept I first read about in the book “The 4 Hour Body” from Tim Ferriss. This book has nothing to do with presentation skills! It is written by Tim Ferriss, the author of “4 Hour Work Week” which has some really great principles on lifestyle design and being effective. Tim has a great blog  site with lots of good information, links and references…

The basic principle of the minimum effective dose is this: The smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.

(If you want to read an excerpt from Tim Ferriss’ book on the minimum effective dose and its history in body-building and how it applies to getting a tan, read here!)

 

In your presentations (and everything else) anything more than the minimum  effective dose (of content) is waste. Adding more content willl:

  • Not create understanding and even detract from your key message
  • Create confusion by drowning people in details
  • Use time unneccessarily
  • Bore people

 

Note that there are 2 concepts at play here: “minimum” and “effective”. This means you must not have more than necessary and that what you choose to share must be (in itself) effective.

To avoid the problems noted above, ask yourself the 5 following questions in order to create the minimum effective dose of content:

  1. What must people understand in order to get the message?
  2. Which methods, media and ideas will be most effective in passing across the message?
  3. If I could only present 3 things to get my message across, what would they be?
  4. What have I included that is unnecessary?
  5. If I didn’t give all the details myself, what tools/references/resources could I point out so that the audience can continue without me?

 

The minimum effective dose can be applied to the speech you make, the slides you create, the way you talk to other people, exercises, content of training programmes etc etc…

I hope this helped. If you followed the 5 steps you should have a nice overview of how to build up effective presentations.

Good luck!

 

If you have questions, contact me: mail@dansteer.com

If you have comments, add them!

And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…

 

Make a presentation in 5 steps (4): Structure

Your presentation structure will help keep attention, creating better understanding and recall of your message. This post outlines the fundaments of good presentation structure.

(If you haven’t aleady seen the overview blog-spot for making effective presentations, read this first)

 

Build a structure that supports the message and is easy to follow

It is important to have a good presentation structure in order to:

  • Create fast ROI for the audience
  • Help your audience follow the message
  • Keep audience attention
  • Improve recall of your message

 

There are many different types of presentation structure and I will outline the possibilities in a future blog-spot. Today, I will show you the most classical structure, which I believe is relevant for most business presentations: The diamond structure.

 

The diamond structure is based on the “Pyramid Principle” from Barbara Minto – you can get more information here or buy the book on Amazon. For a visual representation of the diamond structure looks like, follow this link.

I have seen lots of different basic structures in presentations and the most recurring problem is this:

  • People give details before they make their point

Minto explains that this can leave the audience confused as they listen and search for the links between details, trying to understand “What is the point?” This will encourage them to switch off (and sleep) and they will be less likely to remember what you told them.

 

Here is how you should structure things:

  • Have a clear introduction that gives your message immediately and points to the structure that will follow (if you are not convinced about this, read Minto’s book or come to my training )
  • Develop the points of your message in a logical order in the body of your presentation
  • At transition points, refer back to your main message using the “Dora-the Explorer” and “Learn-to-drive” techniques described in training (to be published on a future blog-spot)
  • If you have a formal question time, put it before your closing section
  • To close, summarise what you said and finish by repeating your main message

..simple as that!

 

For the messages outlined on the blog-spot on creating a strong message, you can see the structure by following these links *:

* note: look carefully at how I applied the “message before details” principle at each level of the structure. If you are using PPT, this same principle should be applied to each slide, meaning that the titles of your slides will give the key message for that slide, before you give the details.

 

To help you create your own diamond structure, answer these 5 questions (write down your answers!)

  1. What are the key elements that must be addressed in order to present my message? (If you did a good job of creating your message, these will be clearly noted in the message itself)
  2. What is the natural order of things ?
  3. What must I tell first in order that what follows is best understood?
  4. How will I link 1 part of my presentation to another?
  5. Looking at any random part of my presentation, how does this follow on from what came before and lead to what is next?

Now its time to build the minimum effective dose of content

 

If you have questions, contact me: mail@dansteer.com

If you have comments, add them!

And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…

 

Make a presentation in 5 steps (3): Define your message

A well defined message is the heart of a good presentation. This post outlines how to formulate a good presentation message.

(If you haven’t aleady seen the overview blog-spot for making effective presentations, read this first)

 

Create a strong message: Link your objective to the audience and create a message with impact that the audience will recall

Many of the people I meet in training have trouble defining their message… …yet they seem upset and confused that the audience doesn’t understand and can’t remember their point!

Other people tell me that you can’t always define your point in one message. Recently, a training participant told me of a university professor who’s lecture was so complex it could not be summarised into one message – I believe this an indicator of one of the following things:

  • He didn’t have enough clarity to put things together into a concise message
  • He had too many messages
  • His presentation was not well structured (more on presentation structure here)

 

To improve understanding and to avoid the audience having to figure everything out for themselves *, we need to define a strong message. By doing this, we will also create long lasting impact and recall of our message.

* more on this later when we see the Pyramid Principle in presentation structure

 

When I ask people in Presentation Skills training what is their message, I get a lot of replies like this:

  • It’s about call-centres and how they work
  • I’m talking about pro-activeness in the workplace

..these are not messages, but subjects!

 

So I ask them: “So what is your point?” and they answer:

  • I want to show how our company helps calls to arrive in a call-centre
  • I want people to understand that pro-activeness is important

…these are not messages, but purposes/objectives!

 

So I ask again: “And what is your point?” :

  • I want to sell our services
  • I want people to take action

…again, more objectives (although admittedly more commercial/action driven)

 

A message is the thing you want to say, the thing you want your audience to understand during and following your presentation. If you did a good job of defining your objectives, you have probably already thought about this.

So I ask again and finally I get answers like these:

  • Our company can help you to install complete contact centre solutions
  • If you create flow in the organisation, people will be more likely to become pro-active

…now we have some messages! These are messages the audience will be able to understand and recall easily after the presentation. These messages are also now a road-map for creation of presentation structure.

 

To help you create a strong message, answers these 5 questions (write down your answers!):

  1. What is your point? Wat are you trying to say?
  2. If someone asked an audience member after your presentation “So, what did he say?” what should the audience member reply?
  3. What must the audience remember after your presentation?
  4. If you have several points to make, what is umbrella message that brings them all together?
  5. How can you formulate the above answers into 1 phrase, that is short, punchy and easy to remember?

 

If you answer these 5 questions, you will have something easy to understand, that has a chance of impact and lasting recall and that will help you to develop your presentation structure. Here are some examples of strong messages that we will revisit when we learn about presentation structure:

  • Use story-telling to create imagination, understanding and influence
  • Company X has grown in 10 years to become a leading provider of IT solutions
  • Build effective presentation in 5 steps
  • If you want to understand people, you need to listen to them

 

Hope this helped!

Now let’s see how to implement the diamond presentation structure

 

If you have questions, contact me: mail@dansteer.com

If you have comments, add them!

And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…

 

Make a presentation in 5 steps: Overview

Trainees sometimes ask me: “What is the most efficient way to make a presentation?” Follow these 5 steps and you will know the answer… Objective, Audience, Message, Structure, Content !

 

The pages linked above outline what to do at each step – follow the links and follow the instructions and you will be able to make a great presentation.

Don’t cheat on these steps. The next time someone asks you to make a presentation, just follow one at a time… Don’t go adapting previous presentations and PPT documents you have already made, start from scratch…

 

…and even if you prefer other ways to make your presentation, you will still need to deal with 5 basic steps. I can tell you now that the most efficient way is not opening PPT and just getting started on your visual support! Design your presentation first!

NOTE: This is not about making nice PPT documents, but building the whole presentation. PPT is referenced in the entry on building content…

 

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me: mail@dansteer.com

If you have comments, add them.

And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter of subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…

 

 

 

 

Make a presentation in 5 steps (2): Know your audience

To make a good presentation, you need to define the audience well. This post outlines what you need to know about the audience and offers some questions to ask to analyse them well.

(If you haven’t aleady seen the overview blog-spot for making effective presentations, read this first)

 

Define the audience: Who am I talking to and why do they care?

The audience is the key to how you will define your message, choose structure and content and get in style. Before you move to structure and content, think about who you are talking to. Again, answer these 5 questions (write it down!):

1.       What is the audience’s situation, what do they value and what do they need (from me)?

2.       How do I define the audience in terms of hierarchy, influence and group dynamic?

3.       What is the audience’s relationship to me and what is the impact of this?

4.       Why is the audience coming to my presentation? What is their objective? What do they expect from me? (this is key to defining the “WIIFM”)

5.       What can I do to motivate them to come, stay and listen?


Follow this link to see how I answered these questions for myself when creating a presentation on “Building proactiveness” for the Kluwer Meet+Greet in Gembloux in 2010

 

If you are ready, move on to defining your message…


If you have questions, contact me: mail@dansteer.com

If you have comments, add them!

And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter of subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…

 

Make a presentation in 5 steps (1): Objective setting

When you make a presentation, it is important to first clarify your objective. This post outlines different types of presentation objectives and give ideas on how to identify them..

(If you haven’t aleady seen the overview blog-spot for making effective presentations, read this first)

 

Clarify your objective: Begin with the end in mind to know what you are working for

When asked to deliver a presentation, many people just jump straight in, open PPT and start creating slides. Those that are experts in their topics will dump everything they know into 50 slides and declare themselves ready to present. And not just the techny people – sales people do the same, as do Project Managers and corporate trainers.

Slow down and think. All time spent in this phase will not only increase your efficiency in the following phases, but also:

  • Give you a whole bunch of information to share with your audience when you actually start talking
  • Help you stay on target during both creation and the moment of presentation itself

As the British Army guys say….

 

In this phase, simply answer these 5 questions (Don’t cheat: Write the answers down!):

1.       Why have I been asked to present?

2.       What do I want to achieve? (Read more about presentation objectives here)

  • Will I try to inform?
  • Will I help the audience to make a decision?
  • Must I convince or persuade? Or impress?
  • Am I teaching something?

3.       How will my presentation support business targets or strategy?

4.       What personal goals do I want to achieve?

5.       What do I want the audience to know and do after my presentation?

 

Follow this link to see how I answered these questions for myself when creating a presentation on “Infinite Learning ©” for the Epsilon Salon in November 2010

 

When you have the answer to these questions, move on to defining the audience..

 

If you have questions, contact me: mail@dansteer.com

If you have comments, add them!

And if you want more ideas, follow me on Twitter or subscribe to this blog by entering your email address above/right…