3 steps for creating and delivering an engaging presentation
For an executive, the capacity to deliver an engaging presentation is a fundamental competency. A great presentation can convert a sale, win endorsement from a Board, secure a promotion or inspire colleagues.
On the flip side, a poorly delivered, ill prepared presentation can be costly. It can result in the loss of an opportunity, leave an audience feeling flat, convey the wrong message or just flat out waste people’s time (yours and the audience!)
Whether you are presenting to colleagues, a board of directors or to a large audience at a workshop or conference – creating and delivering an engaging presentation is key. Don’t leave it to the last minute, deeply considering the message, your visual story and delivery is key.
1. Consider your approach – What is your message?
- Nail down your brief – What problem are you trying to solve? Who is your audience? How will you connect with them? How might they resist? What are their expectations? What message do you want to leave them with? How do you want them to feel?
- Brainstorm your ideas – could you use story telling, anecdotes, images, words?
- Create the structure/storyline (with a start, middle, end)
- Develop a theme (if appropriate)
- Write a script
2. Think visual and compelling – What is your visual story?
- Sketch out your entire presentation and think about how it will flow
- Put slide titles (or key lines) on one page – do they tell a coherent story?
- Break it into chapters and ensure the storyline is respected
- Ensure your main message/insight is evident and hasn’t been lost in data overkill
- Turn words into pictures (ie. diagrams, infographics, images)
- Cull data and excess words
- Challenge each slide. Ask so what? What is the point of this slide? Is the insight relevant?
- Put in the effort to transform your presentation into a visual story that supports your message
- Use client specific template/s, or be sympathetic to client colours and branding where appropriate
- Rehearse your delivery with the content
3. Deliver, Deliver, Deliver – How will you make your delivery impactful?
- Find a ‘fun’ hook to bring people in and get their attention; perhaps it’s a reference to the weather, a local sports team, a recent news event, or something about the last time you visited
- Involve the audience in a low impact way; ask a question that simply calls for a raised hand, like ‘How many audience members …?’ This gets people involved without putting them on the spot
- Rehearse often – practice your presentation so many times that you are sick of it!
- Ensure you keep to your allocated time – don’t go over the time limit
- Consider the tools to supplement your presentation (e.g. handouts, props)
- Include appendices and source all data
Next time you are asked to present, don’t wait until the last minute and avoid starting with PowerPoint in mind. Instead, think about developing your presentation in three phases.
- Consider your approach and the message you want to leave your audience with
- Create a visual and compelling story
- Spend time on the delivery and rehearse so many times you are sick of it!
And now you know what you should focus on, here are a few things to AVOID …
When faced with creating and delivering a presentation, here are five things we see often and which you should AVOID AT ALL COSTS:
- Minimal preparation: Minimal time (if any) spent on initial development of the story
- Lack of a coherent message: A random set of slides pieced together, usually at the last minute
- Words, words, words… too many words: Slides full of words, which are then read out by the presenter
- Poor slide design*: Incoherent slide titles, long lists, charts that are hard to read; don’t even get me started on animations and smart art
- Unrehearsed presentations: Lack of effort put into delivery preparation, resulting in presentations that run over time or lack punch
* It’s important to remember that PowerPoint is a skill and most people suck at it. Don’t waste your time developing boring, wordy slides. Engage someone who knows what they are doing; you will never regret it.
Duarte, N 2008, Slide:eology – The art and science of creating great presentations, O’Reilly Media, Canada
Schaefer, M 2014 10 Fun and Interesting Presentation Ideas, viewed July 2015, www.businessesgrow.com/2014/08/05/interesting-presentation-ideas
Want to know more?
For more information on how our facilitators can help you with your next Board, Executive Team or staff workshop, meeting or offsite, please contact Lauren Spiteri on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone our office on 03 9428 8817.
More about workshop agenda development: avoiding death by presentation
Clients often come to us with a workshop design considered and agenda partially drafted.
There are a lot of presenters’ they say sheepishly. ‘Whilst we have everyone in the room, we want to make the most out of the time together’, ‘how do we ensure the participants don’t get bored?’.
The purpose of the workshop becomes diluted and the desire to ‘make the most’ out of the time together overshadows the need to utilise the time meaningfully for both the project team and the participants.
The role of the facilitator is not simply to introduce and thank each speaker, and if time permits, facilitate a Q&A discussion at the conclusions of the presentation. Instead, we believe our role as the facilitator is to work closely with you to forensically consider all aspects of the workshop design including agenda and content; session planning and process; and of course, participant experience.