Presenting without snoring (by Isabel García)

They’ve all listened to boring presentations.

Maybe furtively wiping away a little sleep drool here and there, squinting at your cell phone, at the weather outside the meeting room, or daydreaming yourself far away inside. We all know snoozy presentations. I’ll tell you how to avoid this with your own.

Why are you talking at all?

This is the first and most important question you may ask yourself. Why are you giving this presentation? What is the goal? What do you want to achieve. Simply saying “I should just explain this to the customer” is not enough. This only leads to a power point slide battle that no customer wants to see anymore. Think about what you really want to achieve. Perhaps your goal is to get the customer excited about the product. Or you want the customer to trust you. Both can lead to the same result: The customer buys. And yet, these two goals make for completely different presentations.

Never tell yourself clammily and secretly “that’s how everyone does it”, but rather “what would I want to know if I were the customer”?

Less is more

This is true with everything:


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@Slides: Either don’t use any at all, or only use ones that reinforce your point. If you talk about the end of the world and then play a video where the world is ending, the dramatic images will certainly reinforce your message. But just writing text on a slide that you say anyway just confuses. Your customer can’t do both: read and listen. So what should he do? You are the conductor. You decide. And if, for example, you want the customer to trust you, you certainly want them to listen to you instead of reading themselves or tuning out during your supervised reading aloud. Question each slide.

@Jokes: Nothing is more exhausting than a presenter who is constantly trying to be funny. If you can think of something, this is good. But it’s better to achieve a real thigh-slapper once than a tired smile twelve times. Keep it real. And you probably don’t play a joker in real life either.

@Time: If you were given a 15 minute time slot, then only schedule 10-12 minutes. Most listeners are happy when the presentation ends earlier than planned.

@Content: focus on the key message of why you are giving this presentation. Break the content down to a few simple sentences. And then after that, you can upgrade them again with good storytelling and case studies. But these key messages provide you with the common thread. Once you’ve found that, nothing will throw you off your game during the presentation.

An impression that sticks

Think very carefully about how you want to get out. Most prepare the middle section by creating lots of colorful Power Point slides or having the marketing department create them for you. But what the audience remembers most is the beginning and end of a presentation. Of course, the important information is in the middle section, and yet you don’t stick with it for a long time, like the entry and exit.

So once you’ve found your common thread, think carefully about how you can craft an entry point from it and what kind of appropriate exit to go with it. To make a presentation sound rounded, it would be smart for you to pick up at the end and continue from the beginning. You decide with which feeling, with which image people go out. This is not meant to be “Thank you for your attention,” please. And neither is the obligatory Q&A session. After all, if you have critical customers sitting at a meeting, those very skeptical images will stick as the last impression, no matter how well you countered.

Rather, say, “Before I get to the end of my presentation … do you have any questions?” Then, if there are no more questions, bring up again your conclusion, success story, or whatever you would like to leave as a final impression.

Contents that are not forgotten

Every person remembers things as a matter of course, if he could link these dry contents with an emotion. That’s why people like to use humor. When people laugh heartily at a story, they remember the content more easily. That’s why it’s also important to speak pictorially or, for my part, to use images on PowerPoint slides that evoke strong emotions. Look at the picture yourself and ask yourself: Does it touch me?

And please don’t forget figurative language. Just the other day I heard a talk about innovation. Now sit back, think “innovation” and tell me if you had an image in your head within a split second. No. Of course not. If I were to say “dog,” you would immediately have an image in your mind. Now you certainly don’t want to talk about dogs, but think about your key messages, thread and conclusion to make sure you are speaking figuratively. This is because images generate emotions and this is how the audience remembers the content.

“Internal communication”, for example, does not create an image in the first step. But if you talk about the receptionist being as knowledgeable about the company’s philosophy as the top boardroom, you’re more likely to create an image.

What’s new?

Don’t blurt out everything that should be officially mentioned. For example, during the company presentation. Rather, tell only what is new. Some things the customer does not know yet. If you own a nice cell phone and are interested in the successor model, you might just want to find out what the new edition can do. You don’t want a general introduction to this phone that you already use on a daily basis.

If you take all this into account, then you will definitely deliver a good presentation. By the way, you can find nice examples of many good talks if you look on the Internet at TED. Not every presentation is outstanding, but most are. There you can get many ideas for your own presentation style.

But do not forget the most important thing: it should fit you. If you imitate others and thereby play a role, you have probably already lost. Because you are not an actor and you don’t want to be. Keep it real. Stay true to yourself. Have fun.

Isabel García is a speaker. With her motto “Anyone can talk well”, she shows everyone how they can immediately appear better. She throws the ballast of many rhetoric rules overboard, encourages to find one’s own way and thus ensures charming meetings, exciting presentations and entertaining lectures in German companies. She is a multiple bestselling author with a total circulation of over 110,000 copies.

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