If you are planning a presentation of any kind, whether it be an entrepreneurial pitch or an informational briefing within your company, do what only about 10% of all presenters succeed in doing: get to the point.
I’m not sure exactly what motivates people to build multiple introductions and caveats into their presentations, but what is clear is that people feel that they need these things to support them.
Well, you don’t need them. In fact, they get in the way of your story.
The saying is that with movies and novels, you have less than five minutes (or five pages) to grab people’s attention. If they feel that you are not taking them somewhere interesting, they will abandon you. The same is even more true for presentations where you probably have about 30 seconds to grab people’s attention before they start checking their email. As audience members, we appreciate those people who are able to be clear, simple and passionate about their topic. Here are a few tips on how to get to the point when you talk.
There are essentially three reasons why you are giving a presentation:
- You have information that is valuable and you want to communicate it to a broader group.
- You have identified a problem and want to bring awareness to it.
- You have a solution to a problem and you need buy-in from people to support it.
(sometimes you might be trying to do all three)
In any of these cases, your job is to clearly communicate what you know in a way that can be understood by a larger group (most likely a group that does not have your depth of knowledge).
Here are three things that can help you be a better presenter without changing a single slide (that comes later).
- Have one sentence that articulates the value you are offering. Put that on the first slide (or just say it in the beginning).
- Make sure that the problem is clear and can be described in concrete terms. (You will most likely need a story or a metaphor for this.)
- Be willing to share your passion/emotion about the problem and the solution. (No one cares if they can’t tell that you care.)
None of these is easy to do, and it takes practice and focus to get clarity about all of these. However, if you want to have a positive impact with your presentations, then the simpler you can make the story, the clearer you can make the message and the quicker you get to the point, the better it will be.