December 4, 2013
All communications professionals have to give presentations at some point, which is often daunting but doesn’t have to be that way, said Mike Neumeier, principal, Arketi Group, during an Oct. 28 session at the PRSA International Conference. He explained the three tips — which total nine words — that successfully captivate audiences:
“It’s not about slides; it’s about ideas,” he said. Start on paper, build an outline, then flesh it out and worry about photos later, he said. Develop great-sounding ideas that will win people over, and make it relevant to your listeners.
“Be able to explain in 30 seconds or less what the big single idea is,” he said. Write one sentence on paper and keep shortening it. “Keep in mind that however compelling your delivery is, the amount of information your audience can absorb is limited,” he said.
Use Guy Kawasaki’s formula for pitching: 10 slides in 20 minutes in 30-point font. “This is long enough to tell your big idea and not any longer,” he emphasized.
The words on the slides are not the presentation; it’s how you present them. “A few words is all it takes” — don’t forget that less is more, he said.
Use pictures too, but keep it interesting. They can help make your presentation more memorable and change the pace. Make the photos large, fun and relevant. “Each slide should support a single key point from your outline. And for each slide, you need only a single powerful image,” Neumeier said.
If you’re the only one who notices your mistake, then keep going. Don’t make people read your slides — explain the ideas to them. Also, clarify when you will be taking questions. Don’t wing it. Practice and focus on your delivery.
“Aim to know the presentation so well you can deliver it without referring more than occasionally to the script,” he said.
Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.
Email: amy.jacques at prsa.org