Did your boss ever tell you on a Friday afternoon that …”Oh, by the way…you’re on the agenda for next week’s staff meeting,” …now a whole whopping 3 days away?
Right after…you’d just been thinking about how great it was going to be to get away for a fun week-end, with arrangements made to use your friends’ lake cabin…just you and your significant other?
And did the boss mention that you’ll have 30 minutes to cover the material, including a Q&A section?
How many of you have been in that situation? I know I have.
Well…what if you…don’t panic…and still…have a GREAT presentation?
At this point…while you’re biting your tongue and baring your teeth in a grimace/smile; you can actually consider the following choices:
1) scrap the week-end plans and toil over a presentation;
2) scribble a couple of notes and do the presentation on the fly next week…not a good idea…but a choice, or;
3) put together a great presentation in an hour or less…and go enjoy the week-end!
If you’re thinking about now …”Yeah, right…a great presentation in an hour or less”…
After years of struggling in this situation, I developed a program I’d like to think could make your life easier as well…one that helps me cope with not only quickly putting presentations together…but getting into the mindset of knowing I can present something of value…without having a nervous breakdown!
I call it “The 2-Minute Presenter’s Exercise Routine”
The first thing I do is think about how much material is actually required. Not a lot!
Done right, with a 30-minute slot, your presentation time is between 15 and 20 minutes, with 10 to 15 minutes for Questions and Answers.
So now that I know I don’t need a lot of material, what, exactly do I want to present…and how?
Here are the ABC’s of the Program:
A. Begin by spending about 5 minutes doing a mental set-up for the basics
Who’s the audience?
What is their position(s) in the company, backgrounds, ages, roles?
What’s the knowledge level? …on average… in the group?
What specific benefit can they gain from your presentation and what is the take-away that you can give them that can really make a difference in what they contribute to the organization?
By setting this framework in your head first, you set the tone. By knowing the audience, you can determine what they can absorb. When you spend a few minutes focusing on what you know that they can use to make their jobs easier…the benefit you alone can provide…you will have –the beginning… and the end.
B. With your context set, now all you really need is the middle… your content…and where you start your 2-minute exercise routine.
Determine what your content will be and write 7 to 10 main points.
Organize the points by their priority.
Write 3 to 6 detail headlines.
Find appropriate visuals that explain, clarify, or emphasize.
C. Open PowerPoint or whatever other similar media you choose, and go to work.
Use large font – 32 point or larger for the title, generally 24 or more for text.
For contrast, use Times Roman or other serif font in the title.
Use a sans serif font like Ariel for normal text.
Use good grammar and correct spelling.
Be consistent and correct with capitalization.
Check your colors; don’t use primary colors together — i.e red lettering on a green background. Best…yellow or white on a dark blue or black, or vice versa.
Add visuals and …if at all possible determine where, how and when, a little humor can be added to the presentation to maintain interest.
Determine several points where audience participation is possible; preferably somewhere in the first 3 slides. A reference to a particular experience someone you know will be in the audience will tie them to you, and keep them listening…participating…just in case you might mention their name again. If you can do this for several in the group, the balance of the group will also be hoping for a name mention.
Review your slides, then do a dry run;for a live pre-presentation audience if at all possible. If not, a video recording is good, or even just a voice recording, so you can share it (either before or after you head off for your great week-end) with someone else at least once or twice before the actual event.
Remember “The Presenter’s Formula”: Tell them what you are going to tell them; Tell them; then Tell them what you told them — emphasizing how your information can benefit them!
On average, each slide should take about 2 minutes to cover the content.
With 7 to 10 slides, that’s approximately 14 to 20 minutes;leaving 10-15 minutes for questions.
Think about what questions might come up, and if your audience seems a little shy to start, be prepared to throw in something like: “Several people have asked me recently about . . . . . . . . and I’m not sure I covered it in the presentation. So just to add a little more detail. . . . . . Has anyone else had that experience, or something similar?” And/or… “To give you the most benefit, I want to make sure I answer any question you might have on any area we covered today. “
That will frequently get the audience involved. And…remember…if someone asks a question and you don’t know the answer…say so. Let them know you’ll find out and get back to them.
Then Do it! Promptly! Believe me, you’ll get kudos for that.
Now, just a quick “In Presenter Mode” review:
Dress appropriately. Dress to look professional. A suit and tie may not be necessary, but slightly more formal than your audience adds instant credibility.
Look at your audience…not your slides…during your presentation. Establish eye contact throughout the audience on a regular basis.
Don’t read from your notes…nor speak in a monotone.
Move around during your presentation, but not too quickly…or slowly.
If your audience starts to get a glazed over look, pause! Have a couple of refresher tricks in your pocket…a quick, appropriate story that you can throw in…a quick question, etc. Get them back on track and engaged.
If you use a pointer, make it a laser pointer. Use it selectively and put it down when it’s not in use!
Most importantly here…finish in your allotted time. If there are more questions that you haven’t answered, be sure to catch up during break, or ask for e-mails so you can respond.
This is it — The 2-Minute Presenter’s Exercise Routine.
A workout program that even those who dread presentations can easily handle!
Each slide…2 minutes…7 to 10 reps!
Anybody can do 2 minutes at a time…7 to 10 times in a workout program…including…and especially…YOU!
An exercise program that will allow you to prepare a presentation of value; in about an hour…take advantage of the lake cabin for the week-end… and return to give a professional, well-received presentation…”two minutes at a time.”