F2F'S BLOG, GOOD READING AND COOL LINKS

F2F'S BLOG, GOOD READING AND COOL LINKS

Presentation skills: Have you got just one tip?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

By Carolyn Crawford

This issue of presenting comes up for almost everyone at some point or other. Even if you’re not involved in the corporate world where it’s a daily occurrence, there’s no avoiding it forever. So invariably I have friends at some point tell me about an upcoming pitch or presentation and ask me for "just one tip" as they start to prepare. And my answer is always the same: “Have a message!”

One of the great joys of my work is the diversity of people and organisations I get to work with. Over the past two decades I’ve worked with very senior, highly experience and extremely confident management through to relatively timid or anxious graduate trainees. I’ve worked across a wide range of industries including mining, manufacturing, consumer goods, banking and finance, professional services and market research. And despite the differences in those environments and people, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt every presenter has in common and that I can guarantee we’ll need focus during our workshop, it’s the lack of a crystal clear, focused, bottom line message.

The funny thing is, we do it so naturally in so many other aspects of our lives. When we draw up house plans we have a detailed vision of what we want to build. If we embark on a fitness program we set measurable targets for our health and weight in a set period of time. When working out a business strategy we start with the end in mind – exactly where do we want to be in terms of size, finances and competitiveness at a set point in the future.

In fact, I was on the phone just yesterday to a friend who happens to be a small business consultant (that means he consults to small businesses, not that he’s 4’5” tall!). I talked about some of the changes taking place in F2F and I asked him for ‘just one tip’. And, you guessed it, he said “make sure you write down a crystal clear vision of where you want to be in four years time”!!

Perhaps the challenge with a presentation is that on the surface it doesn’t look like there’s a tangible, measurable outcome to achieve. I think many people simply see it as a chore to be gotten out of the way. Like the dishes. Their goal is simply to get it over with as quickly as possible.

So how do we measure the success of a presentation? What can we use as a viable, measurable target? We can’t measure success by the outcome of the meeting, whether we reached consensus or whether we got the desired budget for instance, because there are too many variables involved beyond the presentation itself. We need a way to measure the success of the presentation on its own merits, regardless of other factors that will influence the audience’s reaction or decision.

Better measures would include the level of engagement or perhaps the information-value of the presentation. Both are important but again difficult to measure. No matter how engaging the presenter, there will be audience members who are disengaged that day for personal reasons, whether work stresses or a bad night’s sleep. The information-value will vary from person to person depending on their current level of knowledge.

So the one bottom line that is genuinely tangible and measurable and that is almost entirely free from external influences, is whether we conveyed the message we wanted to. This measure is dependent solely on the clarity of our message in the first place, the rigour of our argument to support that message and the energy with which we deliver it. And there are very few excuses, short of a fire-drill part way through our presentation, for not achieving that result. It’s up to us! It’s within our ‘circle of influence’, where almost all other measures are outside of it.

So if that’s why we use the message as our measure of success, the obvious next question is “how do we write it?”

I’m going to give you therefore three steps for creating an effective message.        

  1.  Write it – Script, word for word, a clear, strong, 1-sentence message that is actionable and beneficial to the audience eg “If we implement these process improvement measures by the end of financial year, we’ll gain 10-20% reduction in time and cost the following year”. Or “By allocating a dedicated resource to our team we will exponentially improve the quantity and quality of our output in the next six months”.

    Write it in conversational language that you’ll feel comfortable to deliver. It’s the only part of the presentation I recommend scripting and memorising.

  2. Keep it as your focal point - Put this sentence at the bottom of your planning page. Use it as a reference for the all the other information you include. Nothing gets included unless it directly helps to prove this one sentence message. It is your true north. Your guiding star!

  3. Say it – This is your conclusion, the big moment that your audience are waiting for. They WANT to know what the point is for them and the action they’re required to take. They don’t want to have to figure it out for themselves based on assumption and innuendo.

    Too many people get shy about ‘asking for the business’. They feel uncomfortable about being direct, clear and explicit about the action they’re asking of their audience. If you don’t say it, they won’t get it. If you download a lot of good information and hope on a wing and a prayer that they’ll jump to the right conclusion, you’re not going to get the outcome you’re after. Be warm, be diplomatic, be nice, but be clear and overt, not covert.

Voila! There’s your one tip. If you have a clear message, you’ll feel more focused, directed and confident and your audience will walk away with a clear, tangible takeaway. Which means you’re already a stronger and more successful presenter than most of the population.

  • Want to get this learning across to your team?  Why not hire f2f to deliver it?  Contact us to get a quote today.
Comments
Post has no comments.
Post a Comment
Captcha Image


What our clients say...

Business Development Manager
Mars

I now feel less nervous about the concept of presenting generally and more in control of the process

Category Manager
General Mills

Carolyn not only presented useful information but demonstrated what she taught

Category Manager
adidas

I had a fantastic experience, thank you Carolyn. I'm now more inspired to face challenges.

Customer Service Officer
First State Super

Very productive and empowering experience

Director
Victorian Auditor General's Office

Very interactive and practical, not only for presenting, but also for reporting structures

Director
Victoria Auditor General's Office

Fantastic, approachable, fun and really helpful

Economist
Treasury Corporation Victoria

Excellent. Good mixture of theory and practice. One of the best courses I have ever experienced

Finance Operations Manager
Pilkington

Loved It. I have left with tools I can use tomorrow to improve all my meetings and presentations.

Finance Operations Manager
FMCG Co

Loved It. I have left with tools I can use tomorrow to improve all my meetings and presentations.

General Manager
Telstra

“Until I met Carolyn and listened to her audio course, I thought that to be a good presenter, I needed to morph into a different person. Carolyn helped me realise that being true to my unique style and personality is my greatest asset when presenting. She provides really useful tools and techniques that helped me develop my very own formula for presentation success”

General Manager
Telstra

It is all about outcomes for F2F and this is what I most appreciated as a participant in the Influencing Skills training - they always had my growth as a leader in mind, and I was kept honest through follow up work to ensure my learning was put into practice.

General Manager Business Operations
IAG (Insurance Australia Group)

Carolyn was excellent. Great anecdotes, great pace, very engaging

General Manager Marketing
Nike

Fantastic depth of knowledge and ability to demonstrate technology

HR Director
adidas Australia

Each year we ask F2F back to deliver training at adidas because they are organised, know their stuff and get results. The execution is seamless and their exceptional ability as trainers, unquestionable.

International Market Research Firm

Carolyn was helpful, respectful, empathetic and humorous€ a consummate presenter. Thank you

Logistics Manager
Mainfreight Logistics

Interesting, relevant, motivating, enlightening and fast moving

National Business Manager
Hallmark

Very relevant, logical, useful information. Immediately applicable in the workplace.

Operations Manager
IAG Limited

Not only have I personally seen the skills of my team improve, their feedback suggests unanimously that the programs were well organised, professional, challenging and stimulating. They felt in short they had indeed developed their skills.

Partner
PricewaterhouseCoopers

Excellent! Very knowledgable and experienced and it shows.

Regulatory analyst
Essential Services Commission

Lots of great tips. Lots of references to other resources. A terrific framework for planning presentations. A very worthwhile use of my time

Regulatory Consultant
Essential Services Commission

I can use everything that we covered in the session immediately in all of my work - highly relevant! It will save me heaps of time and help me focus on a clear message that connects with the reader.

Sales analyst
adidas

This training provided the structure and knowledge I was looking for. My role often requires me to persuade people. This provided me with the tools to do so.

Sales Development Manager
TAL

A wealth of information and very supportive in delivery

Senior Associate
Freehills

Apart from presentations, these skills will be useful for ordering my thoughts in arguments for meetings and preparing written advice

Senior Associate
Freehills

Very engaging and practical.  Planning was always hard and time consuming for me.  The skills learnt will definitely solve that.

Telstra Media/Entertainment

Fantastic – feeling very empowered now. Looking forward to my next presentation.

Telstra Relationship Marketing

The best presentation skills I’ve done and in fact among the best training I’ve done.  I used the planning format straight away and it worked.  Fantastic course.