Tips for getting back to basics and delivering a powerful presentation through simplicity and focus.
According to Jerry Weissman in his book, “Presenting to Win,” there are over 30 million PowerPoint presentations given every day. Unfortunately, these presentations are not captivating or memorable. Thus, a lack of presentation training in America is creating a business culture that abuses presentation software and the art of public speaking. Let’s get back to the basics and adopt something I like to call the BRAVO formula.
“B” is for Bold
Boldness is about taking ownership. It’s about being courageous. You need to take control and own your content. No faking is allowed. The harsh reality is that faking it will not work in the public speaking arena. Audiences are far more perceptive than you think. Here are a few tips to help make sure you don’t come across as a faker:
It sounds straightforward, but it is harder than it sounds. By taking a strong initial stance, it shows that 1) you are credible, 2) you are passionate, and 3) you have a game plan. Be creative with your approach, and stay away from humor. It can get you in trouble.
Most public speaking amateurs make the big mistake of memorizing their presentations. This can be deadly, especially when questions arise during the middle of your presentation. Memorization kills spontaneity and your conversational ability. Stay away from it.
Become an expert
Creating credibility is the most important component of presentations. If you can’t create trust, don’t even bother walking on stage. So how do you build trust? Simple. Provide evidence. Show statistics, graphs, charts – anything to help solidify that you know what you are discussing. Proceed with caution though – there is a gray line between too much and too little information.
Faking it may work in other areas of life, but it doesn’t work in presentations. Don’t be a faker. Take ownership and be bold.
“R” is for Ready
In the movie Anchorman , Will Ferrell plays the obnoxious, self-centered, but surprisingly loveable anchorman named Ron Burgundy. There is a great scene where Ron is attempting to impress Veronica Corningstone (played by Christina Applegate), his future co-anchor. The conversation begins with Ron asking: “Do you know who I am?" Veronica replies, “No, I can’t say that I do.” Taken aback by her response, Ron says, “I don’t know how to put this...but I’m kind of a big deal.”
This short scene reminds me of the circumstance that most executives and business professionals get trapped into when preparing for a presentation. They feel that their 20+ years of business experience or countless hours of executive coaching implies that they need no prep time before presenting.
Unfortunately, the reality of public speaking is that preparation is a critical piece of any great presentation. It’s amazing how an affective presentation can deliver more results than an entire year slaving behind the desk. Presenters need to take prep work seriously. Prepare and then prepare some more. It may make the difference between no sale and a very large bonus.
The interesting dynamic with presentations is that everyone starts from a clean slate. Every word and every action needs to be carefully thought out. There is no "winging" it. You may be "kind of a big deal," but that won't save you when it is your time to take the stage.
“A” is for Appreciation
Time is money. If money is not exchanged, than some other valued item needs to be absorbed. Abraham Lincoln did not have PowerPoint when giving the Gettysburg Address, but he still managed to inspire, motivate and change the world. People want monumental experiences. They want to make sure that their time is exchanged with something meaningful. Give them value and you’ll get love in return.
The adage that people are naturally good is true. People at their core are kind and warm-hearted creatures. Generally, most people in your audience have heard their fair share of presentations, and, keep in mind, most people under-perform when it comes to presentations. Thus, the audience wants a more fulfilling experience. Seize the opportunity because the audience wants to enjoy you.
People love people. Remember this the next time you present. There is no need to get nervous.
“V” is for Vamp
I have spent several years working in the area of marketing. Based on my experiences, no advertisement is worth anything if there is no call to action. The same rule applies with public speaking. If you don’t inspire or challenge the audience to do something, then why speak to them? You have the opportunity to change lives – challenge them, motivate them, ask them to do something with the new information they have learned.
“O” is for Ovation
John F. Kennedy once said, “The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.” This is very true. What other activity in life allows an individual the opportunity to stand in front of a group, crowd, or stadium full of anxious listeners – watching, listening, and ready to hear what you have to say? It can be a very empowering experience. Take advantage of it. Live it. Breathe it. Change the world today with your presentation.
Presentations need to be memorable. Wouldn’t it be great if they were even remembered 3-6 months after your presentation? Keep the BRAVO formula in mind next time you prepare for a presentation. You’ll see tremendous results. I promise.
About the Author
Scott Schwertly is a presentation coach, speaker, and writer. He has held various positions in the area of development, television and marketing. Scott has a B.A. in Communications and a M.B.A. from Harding University. He currently serves as both founder and CEO of Ethos3 Communications ( www.ethos3.com ) and is the author of the blog SpeakingonSpeaking.com.