Learn the 3 S's for a great presentation
I have to make a presentation at work to the bosses. I'm new and hence wish the first impression to be a great one. I have the message clear in my mind, but am acutely aware that a message alone without a great way to send it is not the best way to go. I aspire to be a great speaker. So what tips would you have for me to grab their attention, and for this presentation to set me on a path to success within this company. AZ, Abu Dhabi
Good morning AZ and what a great mission you are on. To make great business presentations is a skill that will take you a long way and I see it to be as valuable as having multiple languages in the corporate world. I often say the trick is to get the audience so engaged that they all become nodders, all nodding in agreement and definitely not nodding off to sleep. So how can you do that? My experience as both a presenter and audience member have taught the importance of the following three-part formula. It's called the 3 S's - structure, story and self. Without these, there will be facts without flow and substance, visual effect without impact and an audience without interest.
Structure Most things in life have a beginning, middle and end, except bad presentations. I look at adults as babies in big bodies, and if you can lead them somewhere with a strong structure, so they don't have to try to piece everything together, they will feel connected to your message - after all structure is the backbone to a message, and without it the message will simply fall down.
I recently was in the audience for a structured presentation, yet with all the wrong "dimensions". The presenter got so carried away with making the introduction high impact, with bells and whistles, that there was little time left for the real message, or as I say the guts - 10 per cent, 80 per cent, 10 per cent- is a nice balance to each section.
Story In a business situation, structure will have a basic story line to it undoubtedly, yet don't you feel good when listening to a story that has deeper connotations? I know I do. Perhaps the structure represents the real situation, actions and future hope, or even past, present, future. So could that structure translate into a storyline of despair, resurrection and hope. Imagine your successful competitor having a similar story for inspiration.
(c) Self Who are you? You may be a person of curiosity, of nature, of activity, of books, or even adventure or many others too. Whoever you are, allow people to see the real you, as if they have hired you, there's something they liked and wish to get to know more about. As I'm a person of adventure, I like to bring little analogies from other environments in when appropriate.
One example may be if the story was about a struggle to move on from the past and you've just been trekking in Nepal, a mountain analogy could spice up any storyline along with what you did to pick yourself up when the going gets tough.
Well AZ, that's what has worked for me throughout my years.
Yes, of course we can also fiddle around with what the trainers will teach you about colours and fonts, quality of reports and supporting materials, limited number of words on slides, session starters etc. Yet how can any of that exist without structure, story and self? As one who attends many presentations, I just know that without the 3 S's, I quickly and surely become the wrong type of nodder.
Build your presentation from fundamentals up; structure, story and self are relevant for each and every presentation.
Debbie Nicol, the managing director of the Dubai-based business en motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for the Workplace Doctor's advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague
Updated: September 4, 2013 04:00 AM