Seeing a beautiful home uprooted by an earthquake or mudslide leaves you feeling sick inside. The woodwork, cabinetry, and furnishings all destroyed suddenly by a volatile shift to the home’s underpinnings. Some shifts in a home’s foundation – like those from a natural disaster – can’t be controlled. But the foundation on which you choose to build your presentation can.
Think about it like building a house.
First, you must create the strongest foundation possible. This can be thought of as your presentation strategy. This is where most presenters fail to devote the proper time and attention – and end up with less-than-steller results. It’s like throwing paint on a house without doing the proper scraping, sanding, taping, and priming. We get in a hurry to move on to the juicier activities without doing the proper prep – and we ultimately pay a price for doing so.
How do you determine your presentation strategy?
– What do you want your audience to know, to think or feel, and, most importantly, to do as a result of hearing your message?
– What other opportunities might come your way if you really impress them?
Most likely, you will want to accomplish multiple goals with this presentation. There may be even multiple “audiences” in the room. You may have stakeholders, influencers, referrers, hirers and buyers all in the room – each with a different motivation – and each critiquing you with a different set of expectations.
Not only do you want to spend adequate time strategizing about these players and what you need to do to move each to action, you need to also be able to properly and effectively respond to their immediate feedback/requests/opportunities.
Without proper planning for all of these scenarios, you may miss out on some grand opportunities!
For example, you are invited to speak at a conference of your peers. Who might be in the room?
– trade association executives
– executives with your organization
– public officials
– the media
– industry experts
– and, yes, your peers.
So is your purpose just to educate your peers? That’s certainly a given. But don’t you want them to take action? What kind of action? What do you need to do to get them started down that path?
– What else might this great presentation lead to?
– How can you structure it to potentially lead other players to want to connect with you?
– With what type of opportunities might they approach you? How can you quickly respond with what they need?
– How might you create this presentation in a way that it can be repurposed?
– How can you get more leverage from it?
Spend time thinking through these questions. Get input from others who are familiar with the situation. Even consider getting a little presentation-strategy coaching.
Once your presentation strategy is firmly built, you can begin the process of choosing and editing content. In home building, this equates to framing, roofing, and drywalling. It’s putting the skeleton together.
The final phase of presentation development is determining proper delivery strategies – logistics, visual aids, appearance, vocal quality etc. In home development, this is your painting, papering, and decorating.
Sadly, like those earthquake-devastated homes, I’ve seen countless superficially “beautiful” presentations — built on inadequate foundations. They sound good and the speaker looks good but, in the end, the presentation doesn’t accomplish anything. The presenter didn’t spend enough time and thought imaging the possibilities and then creating a presentation that directly connected to the various players in the room.
You not only want to look good and sound good but you want your audience to achieve concrete results for your time and effort on the stage.
After all, developing and delivering any presentation takes time, energy, and involves some risk. Why not make sure you do everything possible to guarantee success? Why not make sure your presentation has the potential to really produce the concrete results you seek. You’d never start framing a home without placing it on a firm foundation. Why risk building a flimsy presentation either?
Make this small additional investment and enjoy your substantially-improved results.
What unexpected opportunities have come as a result of your presentations? When could you have gotten even more traction if you’d only thought about it beforehand? I’d love your comments!