I’ve often wondered: What are some of the basic elements that most EFFECTIVE presentations have in common? Now, “Basic” and “Effective” need not necessarily be mutually exclusive. You’d be surprise how some of the most successful speakers (and some of the most successful people in the world) are those who constantly go “back to the basics”!
So it took me awhile studying some of the most effective presentations before I stumbled on some of the elements that made my time (as a listener) pleasant & worthwhile.
So what are these common elements? Well, the 3Cs of Compelling Communication are discussed below:
1. CONTENT is Always King
First up on my list has got to be content. The number one reason why people pay to listen to speakers/trainers/anybody speak boils down to the value that lies therein in the presentation.
Wouldn’t you agree with that? The reason why we want to hear someone speak, is because we’re interested to know about the topic. It’s the value of the message and presentation that leads us to it, and keeps us there.
Similarly, a lack of content, or valuable message diminishes the value and worth of the presentation – and it’s the lack of valuable content that turns listeners away.
The fundamental attraction in presentation, is therefore, content – and having strong, relevant and valuable content is the first step to compelling presentations.
The following are some sources from which you may derive Powerful Content for your Presentations:
Ready Sources: Personal: Experiences, Expertise, Special Skills, Insights and Interests
Additional Sources: Research: Statistics, the Internet, Science, Quotes, Books etc.
2. Clarity and Congruency within Message
Despite the presence of quality content, there’s still the possibility that we could come out of a presentation with more questions than answers.
You see, the interesting thing about communication and public speaking, is that its pretty much a process of creation. It involves the creation of ideas in the recipients’ head by transmission of ideas and concepts from the sender. In this instance, everything that occurs is a systematic, step-by-step process of transmission.
Perhaps, the best way to illustrate this is via the building process. To build a skyscraper, you’ve got to dig and build a foundation first. Then erect its structural frame, followed by the walls, windows, electrical and mechanical services and then external finishes etc. The key objective that we want to achieve at the end of the day is a fully functional building. However, in order to get that, a logical procedure and sequence of building has to be followed.
To help you audience understand your content better (and thus making you look competent and professional), it is always essential to ensure clarity. And clarity can be achieved via Congruency.
The main idea behind congruency involves the skillful structuring of your speech/presentation in a way that it supports the main purpose of your giving it. In a nutshell, every part of the presentation will direct your audience to the purpose of your presentation. Ie, if you’re a teacher, your purpose may be having your students understand astro-physics. If you’re a sales person, your purpose may be convincing your prospects to purchase that new weight loss programme even though they’re already stick thin etc.
To get you started with planning and impactful and powerful presentation, consider the following:
a. Know the purpose of your presentation – Know what you want the audience to know/do at the end of the presentation, and keep it in your head at all times during the presentation.
b. Plan your presentation in such a way that every element (introduction, body, main+supporting points, and conclusion) links back to your fundamental purpose of giving the presentation.
c. Shorter is always sweeter – cut the irrelevancies and use only whatever’s relevant. Anything that’s irrelevant or weak not only lengthens your presentation (and diminishes the attention of your listeners) and also negates the impact of your presentation.
(Don’t worry if these sound too generic. I’ll be coming up with post that’ll discuss Planning and Organizing a speech/presentation for Congruency in greater detail soon. So be sure to watch out for it!)
3. Credibility & Confidence
Say you went to school to study the English language and you’re presented with two choices of teachers.
Your first choice: an English Native Speaker from England
Your second choice: a native from UK (Ulu Kalimantan) who has never spoken English language
Now, with all due respect to the natives and citizens of UK and Kalimantan, and barring the differences in teaching experience, I think most of us would opt for the first choice – quite simply because we deem the first choice as being more credible with his/her experience and relatively higher level of competency.
Our choice will have significant impacts on the amount of attention that we grant to the speakers. The higher the speakers’ credibility – the more attention we pay and the more weight we place on the speakers’ words.
For those of you who’ve attended seminars or public talks – you might’ve noticed that the speakers would often be introduced with a long list of his/her credentials. The purpose of this “introduction” goes beyond establishing rapport. Seriously, how does the number of awards I win or the amount of experience I have contribute to building rapport with you? The main aim of this “introduction”, is therefor a neat trick that speakers use to establish CREDIBILITY.
Now, I know most of us will not have the privilege of having someone introduce us at the beginning of each speech. However, there are other ways which we can use to establish or enhance our credibility. The following are some ways which we can do that:
Be thoroughly prepared for your presentation and be ready to handle any relevant question. Preparation breeds confidence, and confidence breeds credibility. After all, who’s going to trust and place their confidence in you if you can’t convince yourself to do the same?
Preparation involves more than just project planning or report typing. Technical preparation (if you’re using Powerpoint) and set up are also essential for your to portray an image of professionalism and a level of absolute preparedness! The same goes to other presentation materials!
Remember, every little thing counts!
Still on the point of “preparation”, it’s critical to not only know what your audience knows, but know what they want to know. Granted it’s impossible and unfair to expect you to know EVERYTHING. However, with the ease and availability of information made possible by technology and the internet, there can be no excuse for ignorance of important information.
Spend some time to research on the relevant information to boost your knowledge and insights. It doesn’t hurt to know more. Not only will you be more prepared, being able to call upon your additional knowledge in times of need will also paint you as being more professional, thereby enhancing your level of credibility as a speaker/presenter.
Of course, research only for the relevant information!
3. Articulating Confidence
Perhaps the simplest, yet most challenging thing for many people where it comes to presentation involves articulating confidence.
For more information on how to overcome nervousness and fear of public speaking, check out my post on Fear Busters!
* * *
I know some of the suggestions attached above might come across as being too brief/generic? Don’t worry about them for now because I’ll be coming up with posts that will discuss the 3Cs in greater detail.
In the meantime, drop me some questions pertaining to the 3Cs so that I can address them together in my later posts! Just type your questions in the comment box and I’ll get back to you soon!
Hopeful to hear from you soon!