You’ve been voluntold by your manager to make a presentation at an upcoming technical conference. “Why me?” you ask. “Well that’s easy, you are the subject matter expert (SME) in this area”. You both agree about being the subject matter expert and so off you go to pull together your presentation. Here are some considerations for creating winning presentations.
Unfortunately, being a subject matter expert does not always equate to one’s ability to make an effective presentation.
Presentations have become the prime business communication tool. They are used to launch new products in the marketplace, create excitement in the stock market, deliver technical content to end-users or influence policy decisions in the public and private sector.
However, only a small percentage of the millions of presentations delivered each day are delivered well.
Let’s focus on the Preparation Phase to ensure success for you, the subject matter expert.
Preparation: Developing Your Presentation Carefully
The biggest challenge with coming up with your new technical presentation, is deciding where you want to go and how you want to get there. We call this defining your purpose and desired outcome. The three most common reasons or purposes for making a presentation are to:
- motivate, stimulate or inspire
- influence, sell or persuade
- instruct, transfer information, or acquire knowledge or skill
Once you have determined the purpose of your presentation, you are ready to answer these two questions:
- What action do I want my audience to take as a result of my presentation?
- What must audience members know, say or do differently when they leave my presentation.
The next step in your preparation, is to determine who your audience is and to create audience buy-in. Your presentation needs to answer, “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM). Every audience is different. What’s in it for an audience of company senior managers analysing the suitability of your product and services will not be the same as a group of technical specialists who will be the end users of that product or service.
Audience analysis is a step that a SME often overlooks in preparing a presentation. This step consists of reviewing the audiences’:
- Relationship to you (customer, conference attendee, manager)
- Knowledge and understanding of your presentation topic
- Opinions about the topic, about you and your organization
- Reason for attending your presentation
- Open-mindedness to your presentation (are they open to the final action you want them to take)
It’s also important to think about the Information and techniques most likely to gain their attention and support the WIIFM statement.
You are now ready to create your objectives, ensuring they are realistic, measurable and attainable in the time-frame allotted. (Please refer to our earlier blogs on Creating and Writing Effective Objectives). Remember to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and check your objectives from their perspective. Too many presenters, especially SME’s, jump in and start developing the nitty-gritty technical details of the presentation before they carefully consider where they are going and why…… and what’s in it for their audience. The SME’s presentation will be unfocused, confusing and potentially doomed to failure without these considerations.
Some logistic questions need to be addressed at this point, such as:
- How much time will you have to present?
- What kind of room will you be presenting in?
- How many people will you be presenting to?
- What type of equipment and technology will be available?
A further review of logistics will be required in the Pre-Presentation Phase.
You are now ready for your deeper dive in your preparation, which is driven by the purpose, desired outcome, audience analysis and your objectives. This framework helps you determine the amount of information required and the level of detail needed for your presentation outline.
Like any communication process, your presentation outline should also include an:
Creating Winning Presentations – Introduction: Beginning Your Presentation
A powerful technique of effective presenters is to immediately Grab Your Audience. This is accomplished by:
- A bold statement: “Respect is like air……you don’t really notice it until it’s not there. Then it’s all you notice”.
- A story, anecdote or short example: “I remember the first time I sat in a car with a manual transmission, I had no idea of what a clutch was for or how to use it. I was in a state of Unconscious Incompetence.…. I was not only unaware of the skill of using a clutch, but I wouldn’t be good at it if I was aware”.
- A quote or statistic: “According to the Harvard Business Journal. …. Out of the millions of presentations delivered each day, only a small percentage (less than 6%) are delivered well”.
Your introduction, once you have “grabbed” your audience, includes:
- The purpose and desired outcome,
- The WIIFM or benefits to the audience,
- The objectives
- The outline or agenda
Creating Winning Presentations – Body: Information Transfer
Your detailed presentation outline also consists of:
- The main topic areas to be covered
- The supporting detail for each main point
- The logical way the topics will be presented
- The audience needs addressed in the form of benefits
- The planned examples relevant to the points made and the appropriateness to the audience
- The link statements from one main point to the next main point
- The planned questions to create engagement and audience involvement.
- The anticipated questions from the audience and the responses required
- The resources required for support (PowerPoint, handouts, collateral materials, YouTube, Application Sharing Capabilities, WIFI and other tools etc.)
The body of your presentation contains the communication of the content of your presentation. It should be clear and concise and uses language that is relevant to your audience.
The conclusion is the book-end to your introduction. You will want to conclude by:
- A review or summary of the main points
- A high impact statement ensures it is remembered
- A call to action based on the objective
- An opportunity to ask or answer any further questions
- A final closing with a compliment to the audience
The last things you say may be the most remembered. Put as much effort into planning and practicing your closing as you put into any other part of your presentation.
Creating winning presentations depend significantly on how well the SME prepares the presentation. Our next blog will also look at delivering powerful presentations. For more information review FKA’s Presentation Skills program or call us at 1-800-FKA-5585 to discuss how we can customize Presentation Skills for you.