If you follow my blog or social media feeds, then you know I have a low tolerance for bad meetings and presentations.
But I think bad presentations are the worst. They are probably the most evil way to kill your co-workers and clients.
Why are they worse than bad meetings?
Because with a meeting, I can always chime in – try and move it the way I want it to go – or at least I can engage.
But with a presentation, I’m a hostage. Many times I’m staring down a 70-page fully loaded deck with bulleted 12-point fonts, unreadable charts, nasty clip-art and cartoon transitions.
I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I can try and sneak a peek at my phone or act like I’m taking notes on my laptop while I’m really checking Instagram, Facebook or email. But I can’t escape the stock photos of business hurdles and diversity handshakes. My eyes….my eyes!!!
So last week I traveled to Boston to check out the team from Oratium, Tamsen Webster and Jonathan Dietrich, Presentation Training.
They promised me that I would look at presentations differently. That I would have, as Tamsen so eloquently put it, “a framework to work within” for my future presentations.
Let me tell you. I was skeptical.
I’ve been presenting in front of crowds since 2006 – I’ve read a lot of books and have done my fair amount of research on how to give good presentations. I’ve gotten great reviews – in fact, I pride myself on the ratings and the comments. I even get laughs, which always surprises my wife. Guess I’m not too funny at home.
But then Tamsen and JD showed me a real presentation framework, broken down into easy steps that would help me make my presentations so much better.
Now I can’t give you all the details. Sorry.
Come on, it’s their intellectual property and they’ve made a good business of helping companies and their salespeople get much better at this.
What I can give you is some of the framework and a place to start along with Tamsen and JD’s contact info so you can get in touch if you want. I highly recommend it especially if you have salesforce that needs to be selling a whole lot more.
Their big idea was pretty simple.
Presentations should “powerfully land a small number of big ideas.”
Let me say that again because this is usually the opposite of many presentations I see (and have made).
POWERFULLY LAND A SMALL NUMBER OF BIG IDEAS.
Such a great way to think about your presentations.
So what tips can I pass along on how to do this with your presentations:
1. Stop being you-centric and be audience-centric.
Cut out the crappy, bulleted “my company” slides or the “who I am” slides (I’m guilty of this and it stops today) at the front of your deck. If you really want to get the audience’s attention – start with their problem as quickly as possible.
But, Don, they won’t know who we are and we need to be credible. We debated this, too.
First, you are in the room so you must be credible to someone to get there.
Second, they aren’t going to care about anything you say – they are focused on them and not you. You want them to pay attention to you then talk about them and their problems. You can work your who we are into the back of the deck when you are presenting the solution.
I know this sounds like commons sense but I’ve seriously used the same presentation in front of one audience and then turned around and used it on another without changing much but the opening slide.
Because my slides were about me – not them.
2. Have a clearly defined ACTION that you want the audience to take at the end of the presentation.
This is how you measure whether you are being effective or not.
This made me laugh.
I’ve defined my measurement in the comments I received after or the fact that audience members would come up and want me to speak at another event.
But did that solve the audience’s problem (which I don’t even know if I really defined well) and did it help my company’s goals (in a vague way – maybe).
Let me tell you that their pyramid system to help you define the action is worth the investment.
3. If you are going to get the audience to take an action, then they must “believe” something different than what they currently do.
Another tip that hit me like an ACME safe. JD repeated this statement a couple of times to get it to really sink in.
“The audience will think differently about you if they first think differently about themselves.”
I never thought that the only way I could get an audience to believe in me is to first get them to think differently about themselves.
Of course I thought that the audience trusted me – look how awesome, smart, interesting, passionate, prepared (sometimes) I am – BTW, those are the examples we came up in class of what we tell ourselves about how our audience feels about us.
What a crock. We have no empirical evidence that our audience thinks this but we do know with lots of evidence that they are thinking about themselves a lot. Just like you are doing right now.
Until I focus completely on them, their problems, and lead them to a solution that they can visualize and own – they aren’t going to think too highly of me.
Did I tell you that Tamsen and JD didn’t pull any punches on us? It was some serious tough love I needed to hear.
4. To get people to believe something different, then you need to give them the knowledge to back it up.
This is your data and illustrations. But you can’t beat them over the head with facts and figures. You must deliver the knowledge in a way to have emotional pull – you need to appeal to both sides of the brain because people make decisions irrationally (right side of the brain) then justify the decision rationally (left side of the brain).
If you’ve never read “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely, I totally recommend it. Great book and backs up this line of thinking on why people do what they do.
Now these are just four tips from an all-day workshop – I wish I could give you more but I promised I wouldn’t in a public way.
The framework they gave us, the online tools I can start using, the insights into how the audience’s mind works are invaluable and I recommend that you reach out directly to Tamsen and JD to schedule some time to chat with them about helping out your team.
I was blown away by how polished and thorough their presentation program was and will be recommending them in the future.
Good luck in your future presentations but if you really want to take your talks to the next level then get in touch with them.