It’s pretty clear that you cannot survive in the corporate universe if you do not know how to make a powerful presentation. After developing more than 10k presentations created for big corporations, I realized that there are a few principles that works for EVERY presenter that wants to convey an idea. I’ve distilled them down to these 10 “Golden Principles.” Please use these 10 Golden Principles as a checklist to plan your next meeting.
1) DISCOVER THE UNIVERSAL VALUE THAT MOVES YOUR AUDIENCE
Before you write a story for your presentation, find what values are at stake. There are universal values that work for everyone. This is because deep inside us we are all the same.
We all wonder about the nature of life and death. We argue with others about politics and religion. We all want to be accepted. We all want to survive. We all have a fear about what the future is going to be. If you find the universal value that moves your audience, you will be able to discover the opposite, the negative and the worst thing that can happen to them. With this information you have “gold” in your hands to build your presentation.
2) KNOW THE MANY FACETS OF YOUR AUDIENCE
After discovering what makes your audience look like others, it’s time to understand what makes them unique. Who is this person? Loyal or disloyal? Loving or cruel? Generous or selfish? Willful or weak? You need to discover the true character that lives behind the masks. And this true can only be expressed observing how the person chooses to act under pressure. The greater the pressure, the truer and deeper the choice to character. And the key to understand the audience and the true about them is desire.
As you know the desire your audience wants to achieve, you can create a story about a Protagonist with the same goal in mind.
3) YOUR AUDIENCE DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOU
Robert McKee in his piece of art, the book STORY, teach us: When talented people write badly it’s generally for one of two reasons: Either they’re blinded by an idea they feel compelled to prove or they’re driven by an emotion they must express. When talented people write well, it is generally for this reason: They’re moved by a desire to touch the audience.
It means that your audience doesn’t want to know if you have qualities you think are important. Your audience wants to improve their qualities and wants to know how you are going to be an ally to transform their lives and make them become greater Protagonists.
4) FIND A PROTAGNIST AND DISCOVER THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN IN HIS LIFE
Get your protagonist up a tree. Throw rocks at him. Then get him down. —Syd Field
When creating a presentation, you need to understand that the audience expects more than a list of topics with rhetoric narrative. They expect you to surprise them. They expect you to tell a story. And all stories are about someone that get in trouble, go deep into the conflicts this trouble brings to his life and at the end a resolution or a conclusion came naturally.
5) TELL THE TRUTH
“The average person lies 3 times for every 10 minutes of conversation”. This is from a scene from the television series Lie to Me.
The corporate word has a disease that is called by Robert McKee as “negaphobia.” This is the fear of everything that is negative and the potential consequences. Everything needs to be positive, with a smile in the face and not talking about “problems” or “weakness”. If you want to get trust from your audience, please do a self a favor. Tell everything you have as problems, struggles, weakness and everything that is part of life. The audience trust in honesty and not in perfection anymore.
And usually, PowerPoints are made to hide the problems and just show the qualities. Everything that contradicts your point, you leave that at home. This is the best way to lose your credibility.
6) USE THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE
The “3 Act Structure” is not something that required a genius to create. It’s an observation on how human beings naturally tell stories (good stories!).
Try to make every presentation a 3 Act narrative:
Act 1 set up your story
Act 2 contains the obstacles your main character(s) has to resolve and the bulk of the relationship stories that must be developed
Act 3 tie everything up
7) MAKE SURE YOUR VISUALS ARE RELEVANT
PowerPoint is not your enemy. You cannot put the responsibility of your bad presentation in a Software that was originally created to help you have “power” into your “point”.
But to do this, you need to have the story in your mind and use the slides as like scenes from a movie. Each one has a purpose. Visuals helping bring emotion. Visual Language making the message easy to understand. And of course, everything can be used to help you, as a presenter, to deliver your show.
8) PREPARE YOUR SELF TO BE RELAXED WHEN THE TIME COMES
Every professional needs to have a moment to study, practice and just after that they are prepared to face the real challenge from life.
If you are a presenter and trust so much in your potential, you can be in a big trouble. “I don’t need to train or rehearse. I can improvise if something not planned comes to me”. If you do this, your presentation will be the rehearsal and you will not unleash all your potential as a presenter.
Steve Jobs used spent around 8 hours preparing himself to his keynote speakers. Every actor spends hours training his role before the “action” part. Every sports professional spends more time training than playing real games. When you do this, you can be sure that at the moment your audience look at you with high expectations, you will be relaxed. And the most important: you will have fun!
9) MAKE SURE EVERY SLIDE COUNTS
Slides are not “documents”. Slides are not “reports”. They are part of a whole. One slide needs to deliver just one message. A group of slides that get together to deliver a bigger message is called a “sequence”. A group of “sequences” of slides could be named as ACT. A group of 3 Acts (considering the classical structure) deliver the whole Story of your presentation.
If some slide is not helping the main message from the whole Story, just cut it!
10) MAKE SURE YOUR AUDIENCE WILL NOT NOTICE THE PASSING OF TIME
Finally, life is good when you don’t want it to end. The same for a good presentation. Make that moment to be remembered for long time. Leave you legacy. Make your audience spend a moment that they forget about time. Make your audience desire to have more from you!