05 Nov A Good Presenter
A Good Presenter
Back in April of this year, we wrote blogs on being a good listener, a good talker and a good writer (http://clientretention.com/the-blog/page/2/). Lately, John and I have been doing more speaking and presenting than ever, as an outcome of establishing The Tenacity Center at The Coles College of Business at KSU. We’ve learned some things along the way that may be helpful – mostly from feedback we’ve received, mistakes we’ve made and observed, and experts we’ve consulted.
First – Every presentation needs a clearly defined mission statement that is written down. That statement must answer the straightforward question: “What specifically do you want your audience to take away from the time they’ve devoted to listening to you?” If we can’t do that, we’re just throwing stuff on the wall in the hope that something will stick. Writing it down is key – consider even making it your first slide.
Second – What do you know about the audience and what are your assumptions about their expectations? These are the filters that help distill the content.
Third – Remember how adults learn and process information in listening to presentations and speeches. Even though we believe our content is really dynamic and valuable, the adult brain will forget 50% of what we tell them in less than one hour. They’ll forget 40% within one week. Only 10% will survive and represent real learning with a chance to change behavior. That 10% is crucial – know what you want them to take away from the content you deliver. We actually acknowledge this fact early in our speaking and tell the attendees that we will highlight the 10% items as they occur in the presentation. Sometimes we’ll pause to let them know we expect them to take notes.
In no particular order, here are some other insights that are meaningful to us:
Tell Stories – People want to hear your story and understand how you learned and came to believe the things you talk about. They don’t want to be lectured to – they don’t really care very much about how smart, capable and accomplished you are – they want to leave encouraged, informed and better prepared to do something important to them. They want to be better than when they arrived and they’ll learn by example.
Keep Visuals Simple – PowerPoint’s should enhance the spoken message – not the other way around. A presenter simply reading slides from endless decks gives new meaning to the term “drone”. Certainly, messaging is enhanced when we can appeal to multiple senses, particularly sound and sight, concurrently with a consistent message. Still, the spoken word must drive the delivery. Slides should be clean, simple, use easy to understand graphics, and never contain more than 30 words or more than 4 colors and 2 fonts.
Embrace the Opportunity – We’ve all heard it said that the fear of public speaking is one of the most common and debilitating phobias that people share. (By the way, that fear is genetic. Back in ancient days, if you were standing in front to a group where multiple pairs of eyes were focused on your every move – the chances were high that you were going to be dinner that night.) One effective method of overcoming this fear is to reduce the audience to single individuals. We call this “plant and focus”. Find transitional occasions in the delivery to stop at a point on stage – plant your feet and stay there – then focus on a particular individual in the audience and have an eye to eye conversation exclusively with that one person. When there is a transition, move to a new spot and focus on a new individual. Oh, by the way, smile at them. Usually, they’ll smile back and ultimately; you’ll both be a lot more comfortable.
Can’t We Just Get Over Ourselves? – Companies sometimes fail when they become overly focused on their own technology – what they’ve learned to do and what they plan to introduce next. Tenacity’s whole notion of Relevant Value insists that the client defines value, not the provider. The whole notion of things we offer that don’t stick to the wall, leads to the inescapable conclusion that we didn’t understand the client’s needs and expectations and that the best we could do was offer a solution in search of a problem. That’s also mind numbingly boring and a clear sign of insecurity.
There’s more to say about this, but John and I have an important speech tomorrow as part of the Atlanta Forum for Professional Selling at The Cobb Galleria Centre. We’re going to make every effort to practice what we preach. There’s still time to register at http://coles.kennesaw.edu/afps.