Some of us of a certain age come from a time when presentations weren’t
created directly on the PC (or Mac) with PowerPoint (or Keynote), or
with cool new online tools like Prezi.
Back then before laptop PCs and low cost flash drives, if there was
plenty of money in the marketing budget, and the presentation was
really important you might create photographic slides, but usually it
was paper on a flip chart stand, or more likely foils and an overhead projector
(and you could write your notes alongside on those cardboard frames -
oops, definitely showing my age!). With all of these approaches, you
would sit down and write the presentation first, and then transcribe
the final version to the presentation medium. These days it’s just too
easy to go straight in to the technology, because of the ease of
shifting things around and making corrections as you go. I regularly
get seduced in to diving in to the detail, opening PowerPoint and
starting at slide 1, when I should be taking a mental step back and
going back to basics.
I’ve blogged before that my favourite book on this topic Is Presentations Plus
by David A. Peoples from 1988. David was a “Consultant Instructor” at
IBM, and the best presenter I’ve ever seen – he could certainly tell a
story. The first chapter of the book is titled “What’s in it for
me?”. Whether it’s a book you want people to read, a presentation you
want them to sit through, or a community you want them to join, the
place to start is putting yourself in the shoes of the audience and
asking that question. The second chapter of the book details David’s
blueprint for a successful presentation. I found myself this week
going back to his checklist:
- What is my objective?
- How will I close the presentation?
- How will I open the presentation?
- How will I organize the body?
- How will I keep their attention?
- How will I keep their interest?
- What questions will I ask?
- What questions will they ask?
- What visual aids will I use?
- How will I tailor the presentation to the audience?
- What notes do I need?
- How many times should I rehearse?
Notice that the presentation medium doesn’t come in until number 9.
And that one at 12 – rehearse…. how often do you do that? Thinking
about how you should close the presentation comes right at the start.
This checklist is an enormous help standing alone, but the book is well
worth tracking down – it’s a goldmine of old ideas and techniques that
are still great ideas and techniques.
(Cross-posted @ Business Two Zero)