When you build a deck of presentation slides, how do you keep on track? If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve sometimes felt pressure (from yourself or someone else) to include more and more content.
You know, like:
- Background on your topic, even though most of your audience doesn’t care (or already knows it)
- Existing slides on your topic, but which were made for a different purpose
Here’s one great tip that’ll help you resist pressures like those, and it comes in just a 20-second video clip from experienced speaking-coach Jim Endicott:
As Jim suggests:
“Be laser-focused on how your presentation concludes.
Create the last summary slide in your presentation first,
and ask yourself: Do all the slides in my presentation
drive towards those simple conclusions, or are there
frequent rabbit trails that really add no value?”
Keeping your talk’s conclusion clearly in mind helps you persuade people to do as you’re asking in your talk. (You are asking them to do something, aren’t you?)
And if you don’t stay laser-focused while you prepare your talk (over many hours, or even weeks), what hope will your audience have when you briefly present it? After all, you’ve deep knowledge of:
- your topic
- your own presentation of it
- your conclusion.
Think about your audience though: When you start speaking, they’ll at best know something about your topic. But they won’t have a clue how you’ve structured your talk, or what your specific conclusion is – unless you tell them.
So to keep yourself on course while you prepare your talk, build your last slide before the rest. And to make your audience’s task easy (and even pleasant!) when you speak:
- Start strong – to tap into people’s hopes or fears about the topic – so they’ll listen.
- Give them a roadmap of where they’ll go during your talk – but in their terms, not yours.
- Throughout your talk, guide them to your clear conclusion, which you’ve laid out at the end of your slide deck, as Jim Endicott suggests.
What do you think of Jim’s advice? And how do you stay on track and avoid “rabbit trails” when you build a slide deck? I’d love to hear your viewpoint.
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Nice! I’ve heard of this before but have never actually tried it myself. I’ll do so now.
Also, this reminds me of Amazon’s “working backward from the press release”
Great perspective – thanks for joining in, and thanks for the link!
It’s like Stephen Covey said: Begin with the end in mind.
Thanks for contributing, John. That’s a very relevant quote from a highly-regarded author.
I like this idea. I also think it’s similar to the advice when writing a book: write the book jacket copy first. That helps you hone your message.
Thanks for commenting, Rob. I’d not thought of that connection, but many authors become speakers as a way of promoting their book, so there’s definitely a link.
That is great advice! It’s like in marketing when you think about what the end result is that you want to achieve and create your content to help you get there. Awesome.
Thanks Carl – I always appreciate your perspective.