4 Goals to Meet When Preparing an Impeccable Presentation
Meetings, seminars, awards banquets, luncheons, networking functions, weddings, funerals … and everything in between. Whether we realize it or not, people present all the time. But how often does the presenter seem confident and comfortable, engaging and memorable?
Recently, my wife and I attended a Bar Mitzvah for the son of a longtime friend. I was Bar Mitzvah’d myself, nearly 29 years ago and have attended my share of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs over the years. If you’ve never been to one, you should know that – aside from the very meaningful rite of passage it represents – logistically, they are very much like weddings. There’s a ceremony (traditionally led by a Rabbi) and then a reception: a big party with food and dancing for family and friends to celebrate this milestone.
This particular Bar Mitzvah was led by a rabbinical student named Nathan (above). With all due respect to every Bar, Bat and B’not Mitzvah I’ve ever attended, this officiant was the best I’ve seen. He led an educational and fun ceremony – not so easy to pull off. But the word of the evening, when others described this event – and there was lots of talk – was “inclusive.” Nathan did so many things well, in his presentation and leadership style; much of it, I’m guessing, unconsciously. But when taking a closer look at how his style created the experience – and the buzz – that it did, I realized it’s because he embraced the 4 Es of presenting.
When preparing your own presentation, here are the 4 things you should always strive to do:
This is a tricky one. In the hands of the wrong presenter, the line between “educational” and “boring” can blur. But whether the event is a professional seminar/training or a wedding/Bar Mitzvah, wouldn’t it be nice to know your audience walked away having learned something interesting? That’s the key word – “interesting.” Sharing something with your audience that they didn’t already know (hopefully in an engaging, entertaining and enticing way) is an easy way to create interest. It’s going to take some creativity on your part to unearth just the right nuggets of information, but it can be done.
Sometimes the instructional nuggets that make for a memorable presentation don’t come from the presenter; they’re offered up by an attendee. How can you, as leader, make that happen? Craft an interactive presentation. Invite input from your audience – ask people to shout out one- or two-word responses to a question you’re posing. Have attendees pair up or form small groups to discuss a particular topic. Reconvene as a group and have them share their thoughts and ideas. People tend to support what they help to create, so why not build a session that facilitates co-creating and organic idea generation?
Don’t make the all-too-common mistake of trying to be funny. Keep things light and open by allowing yourself to be imperfect. A little self-deprecating humor may arise from this approach and that’s great. Most of us are not comedians, but might benefit from becoming just a bit of a humorist in our presentation style.
I always include stories in my presentations. Also, I’m careful to use PowerPoint slides mainly to show pictures and video clips, not text. I choose pictures and video primarily for their entertainment value. Here’s a video I like to show, when discussing first impressions. And here’s a tip on finding the best pictures for this purpose: Just add the word, “funny” to a Google image search. Here’s what I found when I searched, “Professionalism funny” (image left (click it to enlarge)). This is the low-hanging fruit. I’d love to know what creative ideas you use to add entertainment value to your presentations.
Instead of pushing an agenda on your audience, pull them along a path. Tell them where they’re going and make the journey an adventure. Don’t make the mistake of trying to prove how smart you are by regurgitating everything you’ve ever learned on a particular topic. Instead, leave your audience wanting more. That’s what it means to entice.
Effective communication, thoughtful language and carefully crafted presentations are all key competencies in any successful business. And when it comes to carefully crafting those presentations, incorporating the four Es so they all work cohesively is the secret to making it memorable – and even magical.
Have I missed anything? As always, I invite you to join the conversation below…