Why presentations fail? (Part2)

11Dec

Why presentations fail? (Part2)

Let me now turn to some of the common failings of business presentations I read about and have compiled Dirty Dozen, and they fall within three categories:

A  Content

B  Style

C  Delivery

 

A  Content

1 Too much

Your purpose must be to inform and inspire your listeners to accept your presentation. They do not need to know the history of your company or the CV of its founders. To use a sporting analogy, if you were the owner of a football club, and someone wanted to interest you in buying a new striker, what would you want to know? Would you want to know how many 10s he got at school, the size of his boots, how hard he kicks the ball, how many hours a week he spends on fitness training? No. You\d have to know how good he is at scoring goals.

 

The same applies to your audience. They want to know what directly concerns them, the benefit if can deliver for them, and they want it without the clutter of excessive supporting material.

 

A related caution is about the number of slides. Don’t have a slide for everything you say, or you might as well use a video. Guy Kawasaki, formerly marketing chief at Apple, uses only ten slides, one for each of his top ten points.

 

2 Not enough

Some presentations go to the other extreme, and leave out essential content. Your case must always be complete. It’s not safe to make assumptions about the common ground between you and your audience, any more than assume they know nothing. A little research beforehand should give you an indication of how much they are likely to know.

 

It is equally important to repeat the essential elements within the presentation itself, because your listeners may have missed a link between two or more of your points.

 

Think about road signs. Isn’t often the way that the crucial final turning isn’t marked, perhaps because it is assumed that it is known to all local drivers? Have you ever been given directions to an unfamiliar destination far from home? People almost always leave out some vital piece of information, and you have to call for the missing bit.

 

3 No common terms of reference

When you are telling people things that are new to them, you must make it easy for them to understand and relate to your information. It is familiar with you but may be foreign to them. So always start with what they already know, and give them a set of reference terms that will help them stay on track with you, but avoid the use of jargon and acronyms.

 

Terms of reference also define the context and scope of your presentation, so that your listeners know what to expect.

 

4 Lack of structure

One of the most common errors is the absence of structure. There is a common misconception than a linear account is a structured presentation. That could be, for example, a chronological sequence: this happened firs, then that, and this came next.

 

Three minutes into your presentation, your listeners will be thinking “We are we going with this?” In fact, if that question ever arises, either aloud or in the mind of a listener, you need a better structure.

 

5 All tell, no sell

I referred to this earlier , but let me expand on it a little, because it is an error that some people cannot see if that have what Tom Peters called ,,the engineer’s mentality”. According to him, such people believe that the facts speak for themselves, and that “truth and virtue will automatically be their own reward”.

 

If that so, it would be sufficient to write the facts on one side of a small piece of paper and send it to those you wish to do business with. If it were so there would be no need for marketing, for sales teams, for advertising.

 

The reality is that facts tell but feelings sell. We all buy on emotion and justify with reason. A presentation that is full of data will do no more than inform. We need to interpret the data and say what we want our listeners to understand and fell about it.

 

I have come across some people whose approach has been: ,,This is my product, here is the specification; you can see it is good , so you must buy it.” If that sound ridiculous, you’ll understand the need for more than facts alone

 

Make your content easy to take in and understand!

 

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