Whether it's pitching to an investor or sharing insights with your team, presentations are a way of life.
But when it's time to begin putting a presentation together, many of us end up sitting at our desk, tapping our knuckles or staring into space and wondering:
Where in the world do I start?
Guess what: It doesn't have to be that way.
Recently, Emilie Elice-Label, one of the co-founders of a startup I advise, was invited to speak at a major event in her industry.
The challenge? She was only given one minute to present.
I've given quite a few presentations through the years, so I was eager to help out. And since Emilie's presentation got rave reviews, I thought I'd share the strategy we used.
Want to hit your next presentation out of the park? Make sure to:
1. Consider the audience.
It's important to consider how much knowledge the audience has about your topic. But additionally, you need to figure out what's important to them. (For example, your presentation will be geared differently towards a potential partner than a consumer.)
When assembling your presentation, ask yourself: How much does my audience already know about my topic? What do they care about?
Keeping your audience front and center allows you to tailor the presentation specifically to them.
2. Grab their attention.
The first 30 seconds of your presentation can determine whether an audience will continue listening or walk away--figuratively or literally.
That's why it's so important that you get people listening to you. You can do that by:
- Asking an interesting question
- Sharing a news item or statistic that the audience can relate to (or that they'll be glad to learn about)
- Make a shocking or unexpected statement
- Look for a pithy quote that epitomizes the essence of your presentation
- Tell a short story (if you're a good storyteller)
- Use humor--if you can pull it off
(For specific examples of each of these, check out: How to Keep Your Audience From Tuning Out.)
3. Spice it up.
Just because you've gotten past the intro, doesn't mean you've won your audience over. It's extremely easy to get bored, and that's why you need to break up the presentation by:
- Asking questions
- Showing images or video
- Using real-life examples and mental imagery
Basically, you want to do anything you can to change the pace and add some variety.
Even if these options are limited (like they were for us with that one-minute time frame), you can use one or more of these techniques to keep people's attention.
4. Be enthusiastic.
Enthusiasm doesn't mean that you need to shout, or bounce off the walls. Rather, you need to show that you're interested in the subject you're presenting, in a natural and authentic way.
One way to do that is to spend the last few minutes before your presentation reviewing major points that you strongly believe in. You can have these written down, or all in my head--but the idea is the same:
You want to reaffirm why you're doing this and get yourself excited for the task at hand.
It's amazing how few presenters pause the way they should.
For example, you should pause after you ask a question, and count to three or four. This gives the audience an opportunity to respond mentally (or out loud, if appropriate). Do the same thing when transitioning between points or to stress an important idea. (It's a chance for listeners to mentally "catch their breath", so to speak.)
Those few seconds will seem like an eternity to you, but they are perfect for the audience.
6. Use your conclusion to motivate.
The conclusion has the potential to influence the effectiveness of the rest of your presentation. With your conclusion, you want to give the audience direction, and inspire them to follow through.
It begins with a call to action, but it's more than just telling them what to do. You have to show them why they should do it.
7. Be yourself.
When we're speaking to someone one-on-one, it's no problem to hold their interest. The challenge comes when we get in front of a group, because nerves take over.
The key is to learn how to be yourself, even in front of a crowd. And the only way to do that, is to practice, practice, practice. The more confident you are in your presentation, the more of "you" will shine through.
Chances are, you'll have more than a minute to give your presentation. (The folks at Inman actually adjusted their format, giving Emilie some Q & A time, which was great.)
But the truth is, the shorter you can keep your presentation, the better. And no matter how much time you use, you should be working your hardest to make an impact.
Here's the presentation Emilie delivered for Frontdoor at the Inman Connect Conference, if anyone's interested:
I have one very important question for you. And I want you to think hard about it for a moment.
What is the single, most important thing in life?
(Pause, give them time to think...at least 3 seconds)
Let me tell you: It's time.
With more time, you can:
- visit more with friends and family
- always make more money
- take care of yourself better
If you don't remember anything else from my very short time up here, please remember this:
Our product, Frontdoor, (say this next part slow)...gives. you. more. time.
How does it do that?
Frontdoor uses AI to help you owners and potential renters make the most of your viewings.
If you'd like to hear more about how Frontdoor eliminates frustration by
- providing accurate data & real-time results
- delivering more potential renters with less viewings
- and why our AI assistant Stew is getting rave reviews...
...Please come find me.
I'm dying to tell you more.