Steal The Show Every Time You Present by Following These Guidelines
“No more counting dollars we’ll be counting stars…”
If you want to count stars, like One Republic mentions in their song Counting Stars, you need to prepare for it.
Have you been losing sleep thinking about an upcoming presentation? Being the star of the show when you give a presentation is something that many people dream about. Yet, most of the time, we are in our own way of being that star.
Our ego, in the form of fear, becomes an obstacle.
Everything you are looking for, to live a rich and meaningful life, is on the other side of fear.
Going back to the song, everything that can kill you will also make you feel alive. Keep in mind a majority of people are more afraid of public speaking than death! You will feel completely alive when you are able to face and overcome those fears.
Do you remember the last time you killed a presentation? I bet it was one of the best feelings in the world. I know because I’ve been there. Whether I’m pitching a stock or doing an improv comedy show, I’m always nervous before starting but when I’m done (and did a great job) it’s an incredible feeling.
It feels as if you were looking at death right in the eye but somehow you were able to escape and make it alive.
If you haven’t been there… don’t worry. By the time we finish this series about how to become an excellent presenter, you will be able to experience that feeling. Or maybe you have been there but are not able to replicate the experience consistently. The process we are sharing with you will allow you to have a powerful impact every time you present.
In the first article, we talked about the mindset of the presenter. Now we will go over the strategy. This will allow you to structure your presentations so that you can be efficient and effective.
Structure is Essential with Great Presentations
The above verse is widely known as “The Golden Rule” and is a central component to my strategy for presentations. How many bad presentations have you sat through in school or at work? Does the phrase “death by PowerPoint” resonate?
Most presentations are bad because we replicate what we have seen. As you begin to prepare for your presentation, ask yourself, what would you as an audience member like to experience? You likely want to be engaged, entertained, learn something, and leave with action items or new knowledge.
Yet, what do most people do?
Instead of visualizing the presentation through the eyes of the audience, they simply throw together a weak slide deck and run through their slides once or twice as “practice.”
I agonize over how the audience will experience a presentation I give because I want them to leave happy they attended. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you build the structure of your slide deck or speech.
- Think through the mind of your audience. Be objective, would you be bored if you had to sit through your presentation? If the answer is yes, then get to work on improving your quality.
- Visualize your speech. What will you wear, where will you stand, do you need a PowerPoint clicker, are you bringing your computer or a thumb drive, and how much time do you have? The more you can visualize the presentation, the less surprised you will be as you speak.
- Remember all the bad presentations you have seen and . . . do the opposite. Have you sat through 60 slides? It’s awful, take your presentation down to 10 slides or less. Have you been spoken at instead of with during a presentation? If yes, take some time to think through where you will create some engagement. It’s okay to ask the audience questions, they like it.
- Perfect a few solid stories or jokes to add as you speak. There was a time when having a few memorized anecdotes was considered an essential part of being civilized. Go back to that tradition.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Recently, I was presenting and tripped, as in literally stumbled. Some people would be horrified. I made a joke about getting old, people laughed, and I moved on.
We will get into the technical components of designing slides next week. However, before you can even get to that point you need a solid structure in place.
- Think about how you will be perceived
- Visualize the presentation
- Keep your slides to a minimum
- Ask questions
- Master a few stories
You will be on your way to mastering presentations with those few steps.
If you want to steal the show every time you present then you have to put in the work. There are three things that you have to do to always deliver.
- Have a clear goal in mind
What are the emotions, thoughts, and actionable items that you want your audience to leave with? Information is only valuable if we use it. As a presenter, it is your responsibility to influence your audience.
Your presentation must have a clear purpose. When we give our Networking Boot Camp, my main goal is to have people make a decision to attend “the networking gym” after they leave the presentation. I want them to leave with a clear plan of what they need to do to get better at building meaningful relationships.
- Organize your topic into three main ideas
Four at max. Always keep it simple, think less but better. Yes, sometimes you might have many ideas and points you need to get across, and it is very hard to simplify everything in just three things. That is exactly the point.
It is easier to just throw everything you’ve got without much order. Yet, if you take the time to think through the information you want to present, and structure it, you will steal the show every time.
Also, research proves that most of the time we only remember a small percentage of what we listen to. So, the more ideas and points you are sharing, the harder you are making it to your audience to leave with actionable information.
- Have a solid opening and closing
In the first 4 seconds, people will make a decision if they are going to pay attention to you or not. Also, your opening is usually the time when nervousness is at its peak, which is why it’s key you have a solid opening.
It can be a question, a story, a joke, or anything that fits the purpose and strategy of your presentation. Usually, the opening and the closing are the only parts of my presentations that I script and memorize.
The closing will set the tone for what happens afterward and the impression the audience leaves with. When I present, I want to convert everyone into a true fan. To do so, I have to give as much value as possible. My goal is for the audience to leave wanting more.
These two parts of your presentation should be rehearsed until you are sure they will create the reaction you want to build in your audience.
How Long Will This Process Take?
It depends on how impactful you want your presentation to be. I usually rehearse several times. I practice, with a timer, at least a couple of times with the slides for guidance. After that, I practice whenever I have an opportunity, I do my presentation while I’m diving, in the shower, etc.
By now, if you are still reading this, you should be convinced that there is nothing in your way of becoming a great presenter. And doing so will allow you to advance your career. But for this advice to work, you have to do the work!
We have a great opportunity for you. Matt and I will be conducting another Networking Boot Camp and we want to invite you. At the boot camp, you will learn the basics of how to open, maintain, and close conversations and networking events, and how to maintain those professional relationships.