Is your presentation...bad?

audience content pitch presentation why Nov 02, 2021

 You might want to start with what your presentation is supposed to accomplish in the first place.

After a week in which I spent much of my time talking about the importance of tone, I’ve been struggling with a way to start this post.

Because there’s a far, farrrrrrr better than average chance that the last pitch/presentation/talk/panel you wasn’t very good.

This isn’t me just puffing up my chest because I coach speakers and think I should coach all of the speakers (but hey, come on over!). It’s a genuine concern that we’ve lost an understanding of how to effectively develop and deliver a presentation.

I saw 200ish corporate presentations in 2020. Two of them blew me away. A dozen had good elements or moments. And a full 185 of them missed the point entirely.

There were lots of little faults. They were overladen with numbers…they were boring…they offered an obvious chronology (we did this/we’re doing this/we’re going to do this). Those are easy fixes.

The two biggest problems with most presentations — “why…”
Too often when I meet people to talk about developing their presentations, they start with the dreaded phrase, “Here’s what I wanna say."

That statement skips the two essential steps that would turn the majority of those 185 bad ones.

Step one is “why” — as in “why are you presenting in the first place?” I am constantly gobsmacked that people don’t think about their presentations as a step in a marketing process. You are not presenting to simply “inform.” You are presenting to change someone’s mind. You are presenting to get a meeting with someone in your audience. You are presenting to get funding. 

There is an outcome to your presentation. Instead of going into autopilot, opening PowerPoint and dumping in data points, step back and ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish and why a presentation is the right venue.

and who.

Then look at the other side of the coin — your audience. What does your audience need from you in order to help you realize your ‘why?” Want an audience to contact you? What can you give them that makes them need to do just that?

You don’t need to say everything under the sun to move your audience. You don’t need to avalanche them in stats they won’t remember. You DO need to effectively connect with them. Give them “aha” moments. Engage them with emotional stories. Be relevant and meaningful. It may seem obvious to place the audience at the centre of your presentation, but most talks entirely abandon this concept far too quickly.

Make your presentation gooder — ask yourself two key questions.
The distance between a “bad” presentation and a “good” one can come down to the perspectives of “why” and “who.”

Here’s a little piece of homework that helps. Look at your presentation and ask…

1. Does it create the action I want?

2. Does it give the audience the value and desire to take that action?

Make your bad presentations into good ones — start the right way.