Some presentations don’t impress because key components are missing. Much more neglect because they contain too much information. Information overload is ever present in our contemporary society. The presentation that impresses with a strong message is the one which is sharp and focused on its aim. So, how to be sure your presentation doesn’t fall into the trap of giving your audience more information just because you can. What is it precisely that you want your audience to know not just know at the end of your presentation? Can you describe this aim in 1 sentence? If you are able to write it down. If you can not then work at it until you can. If it won’t fit into one paragraph that is sensible, then you have more than one aim and need more than 1 presentation. Keep this goal in mind. Build out from the aim, use mind-mapping or other planning aids if you are comfortable with them. Are you searching for presentation skills? Look at the earlier outlined website.
Immediately around the aim are clustered facts and statistics which are essential. Further out there is supporting information that is important. As you get farther away from the relevance and the importance drops off sharply. Be ruthless and remove everything that doesn’t build a picture of your aim in the mind of your audience. Note down all of the information, illustrations and arguments; whatever you need. If you are not sure in the early stages whether you will need a particular item, leave it in. But have the courage to throw it out later if it is not needed. One check question is, ‘would my audience feel cheated if they found out about this later?’ If so, leave it in. You aren’t hiding things from the audience; just doing them the courtesy of the having to listen to just what is needed. Don’t fall into the trap of filling a thirty-minute slot just because you have been given that time. If you want less, say so. You will probably be thanked, especially if there is a busy programme. Needless to say, if you need more, ask. Never, ever, over-run your own time.
Few of us are good enough speakers for our audiences to desire more than they asked for. Do you know the difference between an example and an anecdote; humour and jokes; friendliness and obsequiousness? For our purposes, the distinction is what you leave in and what you discard. Do use examples if required; don’t ramble off into irrelevant tales. Do be somewhat humorous if appropriate; do not tell jokes, especially smutty ones. Do be as open and friendly as the occasion allows; do not try to suck up to your audience. If you stick to these principles, your presentation will be sharp and lean. The lines you draw from your arguments to your conclusions will be clear. Your audience will understand exactly what you wanted them to understand without any distracting thoughts. Your odds of achieving your aim will be a lot higher. And if sometimes you do fail, at least you will know it was because you failed to convince them, not because you lost them on the way.