(Short of time? Jump to the tips)
How do you create your slide presentations? Allow me a few sentences to guess…
If you’re like most speakers, you probably start in PowerPoint, where (to share your message, and to remind you what to say) it’s quite likely you write dozens of words on each slide. Then, to make your slides look more appealing, you might well “pretty them up” with graphics, a slide template, or even fancy fonts. And, to save time, you probably reuse whatever slides you can from previous talks.
If those steps sound familiar, you’ve likely found it hard to really engage your listeners. So you probably haven’t got the outcome you wanted from each talk.
Wordy slides make for a dull talk
That’s for a couple of reasons:
But, fear not. You can avoid those problems by using a different approach, as described by Laura Foley (presentation coach and blogger).
How can you spread your message beyond the audience you’re speaking to?
Well, in the F!RST framework’s overview (which shares 5 ways to be a top presenter), I wrote:
By getting talked about through social media and other channels, you can reach far more people who can champion your message.
In effect, that lets you “breathe new life” into your talk. So it’s fitting that getting talked about uses the mnemonic “CPR”…
In this post, then, you’ll find techniques you can use on social media and elsewhere to get your message talked about.
As you’ll see in a few moments, the techniques are arranged into these 3 pillars:
(Short of time? See the tips now.)
Here’s one of the best ways to make your speech or presentation more successful: Make it conversational.
Why does that help? It lets you engage with your audience much more than if you used a one-way, “lecture-style” talk (where people feel they’re being talked at).
By making your talk conversational:
- Your audience listens to you more carefully.
- Your message affects people much more deeply.
In essence, making your talk more conversational means making it more like an everyday, two-way discussion, which involves your audience more.
But don’t worry – if you don’t have enough time to involve people overtly (or you don’t feel comfortable doing that yet), you can involve them more subtly.
You can involve your audience along a spectrum
In fact, you can involve your audience along a spectrum:
When you present, are you at risk of focusing too much on your topic?
Usually, you’re chosen as the speaker (or as a subject-matter expert for a training project) because you’ve deep knowledge of your subject. But sadly, that means it’s all too easy for your audience to become overwhelmed or confused by the detailed knowledge you might try to present.
You and your audience see your topic differently
And even if your audience are as expert as you, they won’t have exactly the same background and perspective. So again, that makes it easy to lose them, because they see your topic differently from you.
What can you do then, to help bridge that gap between your listeners’ viewpoints and your own?
In this post, you’ll find 4 simple tips to make your presentations’ titles much more engaging than the ones most other speakers use. So people’ll turn up eager to hear your talk.
Plus, your clear and compelling title’ll help you too, by keeping you focused and on track.
As well as for a presentation, you can also use the tips from this post to improve the title of a training event, blog post, or e-book.
To skip to the tips and examples in the post, you can click these links… Or, just read on.
What’s wrong with typical titles?
When you write the title for your presentation, do you usually just state what the content is, and maybe who it’s for and the date?
If so, I’d say that’s a big mistake! To help explain why, let’s look at a specific example…
(In a rush? Jump to the tips.)
Be honest with yourself. How much would you say your talks stand out from other people’s? More to the point, how much would your audience say your talks stand out?
Whether you work in business or education, audiences see so many presentations that standing out can be tough. But, on the other hand, presentations don’t tend to vary a lot, which makes your task easier!
You and your message really need to stand out to be remembered and get talked about, which both help you turn your talk into audience action. (After all, if people don’t act differently once your talk’s over, what tangible effect has it had?)
And, as Sally Hogshead (a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame) so bluntly puts it:
“Stand out or don’t bother”
So, what can you do to stand out from the countless presentations out there?
Well, in the overview of the FiRST framework, I suggested a mnemonic (“OPQRS”) to segment your approach to standing out, and to help you remember related techniques.
That mnemonic stands for 5 categories of tips, in topics that are key to standing out:
In this post, you’ll find tips you can use to help motivate your listeners to turn your words into action. And through that action, people can solve the problem they have – which is what brought them to hear you speak in the first place.
As author and researcher Andrew Abela puts it:
“If you’re trying to solve a problem for them,
then whatever you give them is going to be
interesting to them.”
So trying to solve your listeners’ problem certainly keeps them engaged.
But how exactly can you help people turn your words into action? I recommend you use this 3-part model:
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:
What do TED talks, the president of the United States, and the key message in the book Made to Stick have in common?
Simply this – they’re all known by acronyms:
- TED for Technology, Entertainment, Design
- POTUS for President Of The United States
- SUCCES from Made to Stick.
You might be wondering what that has to do with your talk or presentation. Well, coining your own acronym can help you neatly and compellingly convey your core message or call-to-action.
That’s what I often do with my own content, using acronyms like FiRST, Aim, or PACE. And as you can tell from me citing 3 examples that I’ve coined, I love acronyms!
I’m not the only one, either. Near the end of this post, you’ll find a list of acronyms used by many other speaking-coaches, including:
- Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen and other books on presenting
- Craig Valentine, former World Champion of Public Speaking
- Ellen Finkelstein, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP
An acronym can be great for you and your audience
So let me try to convince you why an acronym can be great for you and your audience. (That is, provided you apply your acronym strategically to a vital part of your talk, especially your core message or call-to-action.)
Does this age-old advice about presenting sound familiar?
- Tell people what you’re going to tell them.
- Tell them.
- Tell them what you told them.
You’ve probably heard that advice many times (and you might well follow it, too). It basically says:
“Start your presentation with an agenda,
and end with a summary slide” [Doubtful advice]
I’ve used that format myself lots of times. But the more I thought and read about it, the more I realised it tends to bore listeners, for 4 reasons: