For the Sake of Us All, Avoid Becoming Another PowerPoint Cliché

We’ve all been there, struggling to concentrate during a presentation that bores us to tears.  You wonder why you bothered to show up, and more importantly, you wonder when it will finally end. 

Or, perhaps you have been in the unfortunate position of looking out on an audience of blank facial expressions.  You thought you had this one all planned out.  What a terrible feeling!

Somewhere in your preparation, perhaps you had too much to say:  your message became convoluted and overcomplicated.  Perhaps you didn’t do your homework, thinking you could wing it.  Never fear:  there are some low-tech solutions that will save you the next time around.  Drew McLellan suggests some straightforward tips in his book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing.

Weave a story.  A heartwarming or compelling take is the best way to illustrate a point.  If you’re using charts, graphs and columns of numbers, don’t stop there.  Behind those statistics is a story.  Dig it up and tell it.

Keep the audience alert.  If you are going to use a projector or slides, be mindful of how dark the room is and raise the lights as soon as you can.

Narrow your focus to no more than four key points.  Mention these points at the beginning, use them as anchor points in the middle and sum them up at the end.

Don’t let the audience cheat.  If they have your handouts before you’re done, you’re done.  Your presentation shouldn’t need a cheat sheet.  Give them handouts as you’re walking out.

A well-crafted speech will hold your audience’s attention.  Bet you forgot how simple it could be!  Now get out there and knock ‘em dead.  As Drew McLellan says, “Challenge them.  Chastise them.  Inspire them.  But don’t leave on a dull note.”

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