Sharpen Your Presentations With 5 Simple Questions

How to make your presentations stick.

Making a remarkable presentation is not easy.

No matter how experienced or polished you are in doing presentations, it takes a little extra to make your talk truly remarkable (i.e., worth making a remark about). While presenting with confidence and content is great, it doesn’t guarantee that things will stick with your audience. Here are five questions to ask yourself while preparing for your next remarkable presentation:

1. What’s the main objective you hope to accomplish through your presentation? 

While it’s tempting to share all that you’ve prepared for a talk, don’t! Focus on the main point you hope to communicate. The more you blur the main objective, the more your audience will begin to distance themselves from your presentation. Keep in mind that you’ve had time to process your information leading up the talk.

Your audience is processing ideas in real-time and don’t have the luxury of reflection. It won’t matter how important your content is if your audience can’t digest it. There’s nothing more frustrating than to listen to a speaker try to do too much with a presentation.

2. Why should the audience care about what you have to say? 

Don’t assume that your audience cares about what you have to say. Simply because your content may be important to you, it doesn’t follow that it is important to your audience. Your assumption going into a talk should be that the audience has no real reason to care about what you’re about to say. Do the hard work of creating mental on-ramps for your audience so that they can find reasons to care about your talk.

3. How do you want your audience to feel during and after your presentation? 

Put yourself in the shoes of your listener. What are they like and how would you like them to experience your presentation? Don’t ignore emotions. Many presentations stick with an audience because of how an audience emotionally connects with a speaker and/or his or her content.

Are there things you could do during your presentation to heighten the listener’s emotional connection with the content being presented? Are there ways to illustrate and/or experience the emotions that are naturally tied to many of the things you present?

4. What role, if any, will technology support in your presentation? 

Technology is meant to be a supplementary tool for presenters. It is not designed to fully replace the one doing the presentation. In fact, some of the best presentations I’ve heard over the years have been technology-free. If you do use technology, try not to hide behind the tool. Many simply read what’s on the screen and don’t leverage the complimentary nature of these tools.

The tool is there to support your talk. The focal point in presenting is still you. If you’re using any type of presentation software, (1) minimize the amount of text you use on your slides because people will stop listening when they see that they can work ahead and read your points, (2) use images to create a visual imprint of what you’re talking about, and (3) take out any unnecessary elements that don’t add value to what you’re talking about.

5. How will you respond to the body language of the audience during your talk? 

Outside of seeing someone in the audience completely knocked out in deep sleep, it’s often difficult to read people’s body language. Many people make interesting facial expressions when contemplating ideas. In other words, it’s quite possible that many in your audience may appear disengaged when in fact they are thoroughly engaged.

The key is to keep moving forward with your presentation without being discouraged by what you think you might be observing. Don’t let people’s body language derail you from focusing on the presentation. You’ll find that many who come up and speak with you after your talk are actually the ones you perceived as not connecting with the presentation. We humans are funny creatures.

What are some of the things you think about before making a remarkable presentation?

Charles Lee
Charles is the CEO and Chief Idea-Maker at Ideation, a brand innovation company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations build remarkable brands via innovative business design, organizational change architecture, brand integration, design, web and marketing services. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?: How to Move Ideas to Execution, a practical book designed to help people move ideas to implementation. Charles is regularly invited to speak to leading companies and organizations on topics such as creativity, innovation, idea-making and branding. Executive leaders from brands including Wells Fargo, Toyota, The White House, Catalyst, William Morris Endeavor, mun2, Council of Urban Professionals, Chick-fil-A and many others have benefited from having Charles present at their key events.