Last week, one of our coaching clients was invited to do a presentation and he called me to get some advice on crafting his message.
One of my first questions was, “Why should I attend your presentation?”.
He stopped, paused and said: “well, because I am going to talk about X topic, then I will cover XY topic, because people need to know the truth about the XXZ topic, and ultimately I will reveal the 7 ways to achieve TVK”.
I asked how long do you have?
He said: “90 minutes”
I told him: “there is NO way you will be able to cover the amount of information during the time allotted, you will need at least 2 days to cover everything you told me effectively”
I knew then that my client needed some help.
One of the biggest challenges that presenters face when putting presentations together is to narrow down their topic. That was, without a doubt, my number one challenge.
Most professionals tend to know a lot about their subject and they believe in their hearts that everything they talk about is extremely important (maybe it is), and they want to share everything they know with their audiences.
The reason they want to share everything they know it is because:
a) they care, they really want to help
b) they want to be perceived as an authority in their subject matter and
c) they want to make sure the audience gets value from spending time listening to the speaker. As you can see, the reasons behind “wanting to share everything I know” syndrome is well-intentioned, but the behavior itself is dangerous.
When speakers pack their presentation with way too much information, they are doing themselves a disfavor because:
- Most audiences don’t want to know everything there is to know about a topic, they want to know the information necessary to improve their condition, and the faster and easier they can do that, the better
- When presenters include too much information in a presentation, they have the tendency to rush over the content trying to cover everything, not allowing the content to “sink in” into the audiences minds and hearts, therefore becoming less persuasive
- Too much information usually overwhelms your clients brain’s processing power, and they go into this “thinking about mode”, hindering their capacity to make a decision
And, obviously the presenter spends unnecessary time and energy creating content, instead of devoting that time to rehearse the presentation
So how can you avoid cramming to much content into your talk?
Here is how you do it: be clear and concise about your presentation before you start developing it.
Let me introduce to you the tool I shared with my client, I call this the Presentation Summary Statement, short for PST. Now, the PST it is NOT the title of your presentation, it is a statement created to help you guide the creation of your talk.
In addition to help you narrowing down your topic before you start creating it, a great PST answers the question: Why should I attend your presentation (or what is your prevention about?)?
A effective PST will benefit you in 5 different ways.
First, it facilitates the presentation creation process because it allows you to have laser-bean focus, you know exactly what you are going to cover. Second, it saves you time, because now you don’t have to spend countless hours re-editing your talk, or eliminating unnecessary content. Third, it will help you articulate the reasons why someone should attend your talk. Fourth, it will have a broad emotional appeal so your clients feel you are speaking to their individuality. Fifth, if communicates your position towards the subject matter
A Presentation Summary Statement has 6 major parts:
1. Topics: Tell the listener what the topic of the presentation is
2. It is audience centered: Because every presentation you do it is about your audience, you must develop your ideas with them in mind. You must include the words “you or your”
3. It has an action verb (s): Simply putting, action verbs express some type of action. The audience member has to see herself doing something after she learns from you.
4. It reveals consequences: the statement will address the benefits and/or the drawbacks of your proposed idea
5. It implies some tangibles takeaways: It implies that people will walk away from your talk with information they can use
6. It has an emotional element built it: It will induce some type of emotional state in your audience
So let me give you an example: let’s say I am doing a presentation about Video Marketing and someone ask me the question: “Roberto why should I attend your presentation?”
Here is what I would say:
“You should attend my presentation because you will discover: A Process That Allows You to Incorporate Video Marketing to Dominate Your Marketplace, Acquire New Clients Without The Frustration Of Learning A New Technology”
Let’s examine my PST piece by piece:
1. Topics: “Video Marketing”
2. It is audience centered: “allows you” and “your marketplace”
3. It has an action verb (s): Allows, incorporate, dominate and acquire
4. it reveals consequences: Dominate your market, acquire new clients without being frustrated
5. it implies some tangibles takeaways: A Process
6. it has an emotional element built it: Domination (status and power) and frustration (pain avoidance)
Let me give you another example, let’s say I am doing a training about Presentation skills and I want to be clear and concise about my topic BEFORE I start developing it. So I use the same formula above and I get the following
Presentation Statement Summary:
My presentation is about: A 4-step Presentation System That Will Help You Influence Any Audience Ethically While Eliminating Your Fear Of Speaking In Front Of People
1. Topics: “Presentation”
2. It is audience centered: “Help you, your fear”
3. It has an action verb (s): Help, influence and eliminating
4. it reveals consequences: Influence any audience and eliminate fear
5. it implies some tangibles takeaways: A 4-step presentation system
6. it has an emotional element built it: Ethically, Fear
Now that I am very clear and specific about my topic, I can start creating my presentation. Any content that does not support this Presentation Statement Summary (PST), I will leave it out.
I hope this saves you a lot of time when creating your next presentation while helping you to become even more persuasive.
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