Once upon a time, in a land far, far away.. As humans, we are hard-wired to listen to stories. When a story is told well, we are instantly captivated, our imaginations are activated as we are taken on a journey in our minds. As a result, some of the most successful and inspirational speakers in the world use stories to get the point across.
Memorable presentations that seek to inspire and engage usually take the audience on a journey via an engaging story, have a clear and simple structure, are not cluttered and are delivered in an authentic way.
As a general framework follow these steps to create a captivating presentation;
Begin with a bang
You want to ensure you engage your audience straight away. You can do this by starting your talk with a question, citing a poignant quotation or perhaps challenging your audience with a scenario; “have you ever found yourself wondering…..”.
Take time to decide where to begin and where to end
Nothing loses your audience’s attention quicker than rambling or cluttering up your story with irrelevant information. Consider the best place to begin your story by pinpointing what your audience already knows regarding your topic and how relevant it is to them. They simply won’t engage if they have no interest. A winning strategy is to very quickly introduce your topic, explain why you are passionate about it and create a reason for the audience to also be interested in it.
Keep it concise
Most people have an attention span of just 18 minutes. The most engaging presentations are short and concise. If you try to squeeze in everything you know, too much information, you dilute your key messages and your talk becomes abstract and un-engaging. Limit the scope of your presentation to your few key messages that can be brought to life in the form of stories, or specific examples, in the available time.
Winston Churchill, one of the most inspiring speech givers of all time, delivered his talks in short, crisp sentences using simple, rhythmic language. He got his poignant points across quickly and effectively. He also was a master of using vivid imagery through storytelling in his speeches, making them exceptionally memorable. He worked hard to keep his speeches short, refining them until they were short and to-the-point. He famously said “a good speech should be like a woman’s skirt, long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest”.
Be specific, don’t be too broad
Don’t be too general in your subject matter. Be specific. Give examples and go deeper. Showing vulnerability can help your audience relate to you on a human level, giving your presentation more depth and meaning and creating a stronger connection with your audience.
Practice, practice, practice
Another quote by Churchill; “Continuous effort– not strength or intelligence– is the key to unlocking our potential”. If you can learn your presentation off by heart, without having to gaze at your slides or palm cards, you are naturally going to be more engaged with your audience. As soon as your audience senses you are reading your speech, your personal connection evaporates, your presentation feels a lot less intimate, and a lot more formal. This in itself loses engagement. Of course, we are all time-poor so learning each and every presentation you have to do may not be a practical use of your time. To learn a speech off by heart requires a lot of rehearsing and moving into a space where it becomes second mature. This may be saved for the most important presentations you need to give. Speeches that are delivered ‘off-by-heart’ without any prompting are the most authentic.
Keep it personal and relevant
People are not particularly interested in talks about institutions and organisations. People are interested in the human experience, in stories and ideas. If you are trying to sell in your company, don’t create a presentation that just boasts about it’s achievements. Instead, think outside the box to create relevancy and examples of personal accomplishments.
Have you heard or given an inspiring and memorable presentation? What really stands out about it’s framework, messages or delivery? I’d love to hear, leave a comment. Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops? Please get in touch today. I’d love to help!