By Gail Brooks and Taylor Duffy
The 3rd Presentation Skills course was taught by Gail Brooks, who shared how to build presentation content. Everyone knows the material you are presenting is important, but it is meant to be a focus rather than something that consumes your entire presentation. Gail gave some great tips on how to effectively share your content.
Gail began with her introduction, explaining that introductions are meant to gain the audience’s attention and establish credibility. She shared a little bit about herself to connect with the audience and build a sense of trust. After her personal introduction, she explained that every good presentation simply explains the objective. Presentations are not meant to be fancy; they are meant to be effective. Always remember to keep it simple.
Other than the introduction at the beginning and the time at the end for questions, there are 3 sections that make up a presentation: the opening, body, and summary.
Your opening section is where you explain your purpose statement. Why is your topic important? What will you cover? The most important question you need to answer in your opening is why the audience should be there. Create a positive environment and explain what they can gain from your presentation. Make them full of wonder and anticipation for what you are going to share.
There are five things you must do to come up with the body of your presentation.
- Create a story with your content. You want to communicate your message and persuade the audience by telling your story. To create your story, you need to define the main elements of your story. What are the compelling elements of your story? Begin with an outline and then fill in the details, leaving out the unimportant details. After you create your outline, add supporting materials like statistics, examples, experiences, and research.
- Understand the importance of presentation flow. Your presentation must flow so you can keep your audience’s attention. A choppy presentation will make the presenter seem scatter-brained and the audience will clock out. If you need tips on connecting your points, read Presenting to Win by Jerry Weissman, where he shares 16 flow structures.
- Select engaging content. Humans typically have a short attention span. Without engaging content, you will lose your audience. Engaging content does not mean that it must be super flashy or jumping right out at the audience; it means organizing your story and content in a manner that will flow and keep your audience following along. A great way to keep everyone with you is by having activities where they apply the information you just gave them.
- Select non-standard layouts/materials. The bulleted lists in presentations are overplayed. Try doing something different, such as using animation, or even use the platform, Prezi, where they have many different templates that will draw your audience in. Just remember that it’s best to keep it simple. Limit your quotes, don’t use micro fonts, limit the amount of data and colors, and use graphics when appropriate. For example, use colors to communicate, such as using different colors when you want to draw attention to a certain point. However, don’t abuse this tactic. Remember, less is more!
- Learn from comments/examples provided by other participants. Feedback and constructive criticism will only improve your skills. Don’t take it to heart and use it to fuel your drive to grow as a presenter!
Your summary is what ties your whole presentation together. Make sure you are clear and state the main points, so people are left with the most important elements of your topic. No presentation is over without a call to action. Your topic is meant to convince or persuade your audience, so make sure you leave them to think about everything you taught.
By using an introduction and the 3 steps, opening, body, and summary, you will create a story that will captivate your audience. There is no need to stress so much about the content of your presentation. Form an outline and fill it in with stories, statistics, and activities, and you will have the perfect content for your presentation!