How many of the presentations you attend would you consider persuasive? More specifically, on a scale of 1-10, how many would you score above a 7 on persuasion?
I’m betting the percentage is relatively low.
And I’m also betting you want your percentage to be far higher than that.
The list of reasons so many presentations miss the mark is long and varied. But it certainly isn’t for a lack of resources. There is plenty of advice available to you—books, courses, websites, tools, techniques, as well as the advice of so many others who "just want to help."
Yet with all this advice, a large percentage of presentations still aren't very effective or very persuasive.
Because people tend to follow conventional wisdom, they tend to get conventional results—the results you see in all the meetings you attend. Since you want better-than-conventional results, what follows is uncommon advice.
This isn’t the voice of your high school speech teacher. This is advice that, when taken, can lead to remarkable results.
Let’s get started.
More focus, less scatter. If you can’t put the key concepts and ideas of your talk on the back of an envelope or on one side of a 3x5 card, your message is too scattered. Hone in on your key message; know exactly what it is. Clearly know what your desired outcome is, and build the entire presentation around this outcome. If you don't know this outcome or goal, how can you expect your audience to know (or remember) it?
More audience, less you. Your presentation isn’t for you or about you; it is for and about your audience. So, put your focus where it belongs! Worry less about how you look or sound and more about helping them understand your message. If your focus is all about you, stop reading—none of these points will help you. A presentation should always be about the audience—if it isn’t it has no prayer of being persuasive.
More you, less PowerPoint. Let’s face it, too many people use PowerPoint as a teleprompter or a crutch to overcome lack of preparation (more on this later). PowerPoint is a visual aid, that’s it. You can always be more persuasive than slides, regardless of how slick or cool they are or which font you use.
More visuals, less words. One of the reasons we read our slides is that we have too many words on them! Your PowerPoint presentation has too many words on every slide—and you likely have too many slides. Cut, cut, cut the words! Visual aids should be visual. Start replacing the words on your slides with images. And not just pie charts and line graphs, but pictures and images that help support your story and help both persuasion and memory.
More emotion, less logic. It takes more than logic to move people. Give your audience the facts they need, but don't overload them. The best presentations realize that an emotional connection must be made. Make sure you speak to the emotion of an issue, not just the facts. Talk about why, and not just how.
More stories, less “facts.” We read books, watch TV and buy movie tickets because we love stories. When you create stories around your presentation or include relevant and passionate stories as a part of your presentation, you will be more successful. Time spent developing and polishing these stories is time well-invested.
More preparation, less “I’ll wing it.” Giving an effective presentation takes preparation and planning time. Too many people give poor presentations because they simply rely on their slides and muddle through. If you want to be a more powerfully persuasive presenter, you must invest the time to be well prepared. If the outcome isn’t worth the preparation time, maybe the presentation doesn’t need to be given.
More belief, less bluster. Let your passion for your topic, your message and your recommendations show! If you believe in your message, let people know that through your words, actions, body language, energy and more.
More you, less facade. No, this isn’t in conflict with the last point; you will be a more effective presenter when you are real, genuine and sincere. Drop the posturing and be real. Your audience will appreciate it, and they will listen and trust you more and ultimately you will be more persuasive.
You’ve just read nine pieces of uncommon advice. But reading them isn’t enough. You need to apply at least one of them to your next presentation. When you do, you will be more confident and will achieve more of the results you desire. You will have an audience that has heard and understood your words and takes action because of the presentation.
If we want to better at anything—including presentations—sometimes we need to do things differently than everyone else. Following the crowd will, at the very best, allow you to only be incrementally better. Taking a different approach can lead to breakthrough success.