How you present your ideas influences what you attract
The battle of ideas is fought in the field of communication. How many times has a project fallen due to poor exposure or poor advocacy of its benefits? Are we able to adequately explain our arguments and the values of what we are proposing? Do we bring extra inspiration, motivation, credibility and confidence when presenting our work and ideas? Do we know how to make efficient presentations? In our heads are certain solutions, strategy or approach which works perfectly, but how do we make our partners, customers, suppliers to believe in us?
There is a research conducted by Prezi, and echoed by Forbes in this article, which 70% of respondents said that presentation skills were critical to career success. But, in addition, this research was also anticipating a reality that was quite silenced: the terror that many people are facing this type of situations. Up to 20% were willing to simulate a sickness or delegate the presentation to someone else, in order to avoid a public presentation.
We develop our careers in a context of maximum competitiveness, in which the pace of analysis / diagnosis / response is frenetic and requires agility, vision and communication skills. We must detect improvements in order to prevent errors and propose actions in a limited time and also in projects where there are different types of interlocutors, hierarchy and technical profile. The best idea is not the one that works perfectly on your computer desktop, but the effective presentations are the ones that are capable of inspiring, motivating and attracting people who are going to decide whether to start it.
"The best idea is not the one that works perfectly on your computer desktop, but the one that is capable of inspiring, motivating and attracting the people who are going to decide whether to start it."
The secret of effective presentations goes more far beyond "telling someone something".
In presenting we must be able to:
- Align our partners with our positions, ideas and approaches
- Inspire and motivate the need for change and action
- Empathize with the needs and expectations of the audience
- Order and value the tangible benefits of our proposal
- Transmit a complete and contextualized picture of the project situation
- Obtain a number of concrete actions that have to be taken
- Sorting our ideas
- Prevent errors
We usually think when we are about to introduce a presentation, we should act as Steve Jobs. In the imagination of our generation, Apple's epic performances are an indelible part of our memory, just as it can be Academy Award ceremonies, MTV ceremonies, or the final of a football match. The magic that emerges in how an inspirational person is able to transmit energy in the form of a project, is equal to these shows or sport events.
I'm sorry, it's complicated for you to be able to present as Steve Jobs. Or that you're facing a product as fabulous as the first iPhone in your career. In addition, we will generally use effective presentation techniques, not for the great historical milestones, but for small-big moments like:
- Explain an idea to a colleague, or a responsible manager
- Make project status
- Perform an analytical data report
- Explain a plan or strategy
- Briefly communicate with the team, before they start to work
- Create an offer or commercial proposal
Some keys to efficient presentations
The habit does not always make the monk. We can, and we should demand a maximum level in each of these presentations and to achieve this is to analyze and observe efficient presentations, whether on YouTube, TedTalks or PowerPoint. The battle of persuasion is not won exclusively by great commercial talents, personalities or people with great courage or some miracle. Quite the contrary. The capacity for emotion comes from normal people who trust in your idea and are able to transmit it. This can only be achieved with preparation. To help you with your effective presentations, here are some tips. All of them are based on our experience in the day-to-day running of the agency.
"The capacity of emotion comes from normal people who believe in your idea and are able to transmit it. All you have to do is work hard and believe in yourself."
1. Spend 20% of a task's time on its efficient presentation. You have a limited time to diagnose a problem and propose series of improvement actions. The time flies and there are only a few minutes left in order to present your ideas. But why are you still thinking about ideas? Submitting an idea is part of the idea. Not only because it will help you sort it out, question it and improve it, but because you will be able to build arguments and highlight the benefits. So, use the Pareto Principle, and always reserve 20% of the time you have planned for a task exclusively for its presentation. You will understand that ideas will flow and become more convincing, which means you have more confidence in your next meeting.
2. ¿Qué busco con esta presentación?You're eager to jump into the Keynote, Powerpoint or a whiteboard to write ideas. It's normal, it's even healthy, but what are your real goals in this presentation? What do you expect from yourself? What kind of skills or abilities can you use to transmit it? What other messages or concepts from the project or the company as a whole can you convey? If you focus the presentation on the real objectives you are looking for, for sure you will have success.
3. Take care of the formal aspects. Decide which format you will use. Depending on the type of presentation and content, the time, the characteristics of the audience, the technical resources (try to avoid online content if you don't control the connection) and above all, consider which tools are more comfortable for you, because this way you will have more ease and training. If you have three hours left in the presentation, it’s not the time to learn After Effects....
So, from the beginning, consider:
- The format of the presentation and the software
- The real time you'll have (you will always "roll up" more than you thought)
- The physical context of the presentation (will it be in the meeting room or face to face, will I be asked to send it all by e-mail, will there be many people? Where will they be located?)
- Technical meaning and connectivity. We live in a hyperconnected world... or not, suddenly the internet doesn't go. It should not be so, but it is and it will be. Take it all to the local.
- Adapt your dress-code. Don't stop being yourself, but also play the role that is expected of you at that meeting. Is it jacket and tie day or jacket and slippers day? It's just as uncomfortable to feel disguised as if you're out of place. If you can control the number and responsibility of people in a presentation (or any meeting in general), so better for you.
- State your style. You are what you are and people want you to be original. Develop your personality and style, more humorous, freakish, based on data, sparing in words, solvent... but always at the service of the project you are working on. There's nothing more ridiculous than using Chewbacca to present a dashboard.
4. Be sure to transmit well all your messages. You have 40 minutes, 15 of which will be in frantic competition with the e-mails, calls and WhatsApp messages that your callers will receive. It is vital that you are clear about the key ideas you need to put forward, the basic arguments you need to outline and the next steps you want to agree on. Don't leave the meeting unsolved, ask what to do next and lead. But to do so, it is critical to rank your ideas and fit them together in any way, in a simple, pedagogical and polite way, without superfluous technicalities or technological or numerical eccentricities designed more to legitimize you than to defend your idea.
5. Structure the content from the beginning. Once you have the basic ideas clear, a good advice to make effective presentations, knowing how much time you have, is to create a "skeleton of your presentation" and generate blank slides, or with the template you are going to use, where you can write down the key ideas of each slide. This way you won't lose control of the scope of your presentation at any time and you won't miss out on anything relevant. Look at references, study time and structure before you start designing. Keep in mind, that a slide with a content of 4-5 bullets or dots, you can perfectly invest up to 10 minutes. Don't forget that the slides are meant to help you summarize ideas and attract the attention of the speaker, not you. If you need a Keynote to remember your ideas, you'd better use private comments or paper notes.
"...one good tip: Knowing how to manage your time, means creating a “skeleton" of your presentation."
At the structural level, in addition to measuring time and key ideas, it is important to build a good narrative rhythm. To do this, better don’t reinvent the wheel. The classic structure of an effective presentation in three stages: presentation - knot - outcome, is magnificent. It starts with a context, defines the problem, proposes the solutions, defines the concrete steps to be taken and summarizes them. That could be a good structure to come up with any idea. However, if we analyze in detail mythical presentations such as the one we mentioned earlier by Steve Jobs, we can detect a very thoughtful structure in which the presenter constantly plays with resources such as the creation of expectations, interaction, silence or also humor. These are dramatic resources, such as the structure of Freytag's pyramid, inspired directly by the world of literature and narrative.
If you want to know something more interesting, please take a look on this TedTalk: Nancy Duarte uncovers common structure of greatest communicators, "The secret structure of great talks".
6. It's not all about you. The concentration is important and you must take into account many aspects, but don't make the mistake of making everything seem excessively
self-centered. Try to share your ideas, suggest improvements, ask questions. Some forms of interaction you can use in an effective presentation are:
- Typical: "Let them raise the hand who in this room...", "Of all the people here, who will ever...?
- Humor. Consistent with the role and tone of your presentation, a little humorous wink that makes you smile or laugh always helps to make your idea "slippery" better for audience.
- Exciting. If you put forward resources, ideas or arguments that encourage debates, comments or emotions, your audience's ability to empathise you and for this your project will increase exponentially.
7. Improve for the better. You may not have all the time in the world to develop a new skill, but a presentation is a golden opportunity to learn something new, to go deeper into a certain subject, to improve using a program... Constant learning must be part of your culture.
8. Listen to yourself. Do not hide in the audio-visual presentation. In fact, it is often not essential.
9. Don't be bored or overwhelmed. If your presentation is visual, that is more attractive for the audience. If you have enough time, project some material and make something unique for the people. Don't cram presentations with data, huge lists, colorful backgrounds, and photos that make it hard to read or understand the key content you want to upload. Quotes and statistics are always a good idea.
10. Look out for your interests. Feel important, it's your time. And, to ensure that you have achieve the goals that you set yourself at the beginning of the work, ensure the feedback by asking specifically what is bothering you, and make clear which are the next steps. And, when you're done, file, name the documents correctly and reuse them. Your current presentations are the basis for future ones.
Although moving out of the comfort zone is a some random concept, keep in mind that presenting is an opportunity to improve, learn, test yourself and develop skills. We cannot escape from these types of interactions, they are daily and a fundamental part of our work, so it seems a good idea to make them an opportunity and a new territory in which we can strengthen our professional capacities.
iPhone 2007 presentation. Steve Jobs.
The Structure of great Talks. Ted Talks. Nancy Duarte.
La pirámide dramática. http://sobreloquesabes.blogspot.com.es/2016/08/la-piramide-dramatica.html