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March 25, 2010

Top Ten Presentation Tips

I was asked by the Client Services folks to provide some guidance on
how to present more effectively to clients. Here are my “Top Ten
Presentation Tips,” with an eye toward client presentation of marketing
strategy and creative.

10. Have a point. Yea, sounds
obvious. So what was the point of the last presentation you saw? How
about the 3 before that? The fact is most presentations are about as
specific and conclusive as the phone book. Invariably you’re making a
presentation to change what a group of people thinks, feels, or does
about something specific. Before you begin you should decide what that
is, then…

9. Start with structure. If your
audience is at Point A when you begin, and your goal is to move them to
Point B, you first need to decide on the substantive argument that will
get them there, and the logical progression of that argument over the
course of n slides. I use a trick for this sometimes, that has
another benefit…

8. Let the audience feel their progress. The
first thing I do when creating a new presentation is create a slide
called “Meeting Objectives,” which reflects “The Point” referenced in 10
above. The second thing I do is create an “Agenda” slide that lists
each section of the presentation I’m about to assemble, based on the
logical structure I’ve defined in 9. If there are 5 section headers in
the stack of this slide, for example (there usually are,) I make five
copies of this section header slide, and use it to indicate the start of
each section as I make my way through the deck. This helps me organize
my ideas in the process of presentation building, but at presentation
time I’ve found it also gives the audience a sense of where they’ve
been, where they are, and where they’re going. That makes people feel
good, for whatever reason.

7. Tell them what you’re going to say, tell them, and tell
them what you said.
Speaking of which… Any 1st year media
buyer can tell you that frequency matters as much as reach when trying
to get your message across. The audience for your presentation is no
different from the audience for your advertising. A little repetition is
a good thing, at least for the key ideas of your presentation. Use the
“Meeting Objectives” slide to make your point right out of the gate.
Return consistently to the “Agenda” slide to reinforce the progression
of your argument. Conclude with an “Executive Summary” slide that
reinforces your key points, and closes – one final time – with The
Point. It really does take that much for an idea to sink in with people.
It’s just the way people are, you and I included.

6. Entertain, Inform, Promote. In that order. This
is a Guy Kawasaki thing, but it’s served me well. NEVER be the guy who
gets up on stage and talks about how great his company is for 10 minutes
before focusing on what the audience has come for. It’s rude, and a
good way to become the presenter people want to see less of. If you want
people to listen you have to draw them in, and the best way to do that
is with a little… zip.

5. Start strong. A great way to do this is to start
with what people really want from a speaker: A story. Not some joke,
unrelated to your point. But an anecdote or even an idealized fiction
that people can relate to immediately. Stories are universal,
accessible, engaging. They entertain and inform simultaneously, a tough
combination to beat.

4. Have good slides. Slides matter. I could go on
and on about this, but instead I’ll encourage you to learn from the guy I
learned from: Garr Reynolds. Read his blog.
Buy his
book,
and commit it to memory. It’s
genius, and once you have slides you’re really proud of, all that’s left
is to get up there and speak to them.

3. Treat each slide like the punchline, not the joke. Speaking
of speaking style… Just relax, and talk. Don’t script every word, or
read off cards, or (God forbid) read your own slides. Talk to individual
audience members at different points in the room. Make your points, as
you would in a normal conversation, with a friend. Use each to emphasize
a single idea in the flow of your pitch – not to replace the voiceover,
but as a cue for the audience about what they really should be taking
away from whatever it is you’re saying at the time.

2. Keep it short. If you have an hour, speak for 40
minutes. If you have a half hour, speak for 20 minutes. If you have 5
minutes, just build your “Agenda” slide one header at a time, and spend a
half a minute explaining what’s most important in each section. Then
ask for questions, and address them in a way that – again – delivers on
The Point. Remember… your goal is not to get through your slides.
It’s to move the individuals in your audience from Point A to Point B.
And it’s often easier to do that in a dialogue than it is in a
monologue.

1. Practice. No matter how good you think your
presentation is, practicing it live, end-to-end, will help you refine
it. And no matter how experienced a presenter you are, practice will
make you smoother and more relaxed come game time.

And that’s what it’s all about. Game time.

Want to see these principles in action? Here’s how the big boys do
it

Mike Troiano is
the President of Holland-Mark
Digital
.  This blog post was originally published on March 19,
2010.  You can find this post, as well as additional content on his blog called Scalable Intimacy.