Taking a Presentation from Boring to Soaring (Part Two)
In Part One of our series titled, “Taking a Presentation from Boring to Soaring,” we identified three techniques that can improve the content of your presentations:
Stories: narratives that describe events which unfold over time
Anecdotes: short accounts of real or fictional incidents or characters
Examples: something that’s typical of its group or something worthy of imitation
Here are three more techniques to help supercharge your presentations:
An analogy is a comparison of two different things that are alike in some way.
Research shows that analogies are among the most powerful change agents or tools of persuasion. One reason is that they engage an audience. When you hear an analogy, at first you’re puzzled or confused. You think, “Wait a minute. That’s odd. Why are those two things being compared? They’re totally different.” But as you begin to think about them, you realize that they have something in common. Your confusion begins to subside and you feel more comfortable about the comparison.
Analogies turn passive listeners into active “puzzle solvers.” More importantly, analogies help presenters get an audience to understand something (especially something complex) or come around to the presenter’s point of view.
A few years back, The Wall Street Journal ran an op ed encouraging Congress to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling to increase America’s energy supply. Estimates are that ANWR, located in Alaska, contains about 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil, but federal law prohibits drilling there.
The Journal used this analogy in its editorial: “Thanks to modern drilling technology, all of this oil and gas can be developed from a sliver of the state: fewer than 2,000 acres, or less than 0.01% of the wildlife refuge’s acreage. If Alaska were the size of the front of this newspaper, that 2,000 acre footprint would be a single letter.”
Memorable lines are phrases or sentences that people can easily recall and repeat.
In our media training, we tell clients that reporters want good quotes – to use in headlines, as direct or indirect quotes in the story, as pull-out quotes (in large, bold type) and in photo captions. Memorable lines or quotes are among the most powerful tools in journalism. They are equally powerful in presentations.
Here are some memorable lines you may have heard and a few you may not have heard:
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
“The China we see now is an exclamation point followed by a question mark.”
“There are times when you must put force at the service of peace.”
Memorable lines grab our attention, and because they’re so different from the standard forms of expression used by most people, we remember them.
Compelling data are facts or figures that surprise or otherwise stand out.
Did you know the following?
- More than 200 million people at any given moment are suffering from malaria, and one million deaths per year are caused by the disease.
- When a presenter uses visual aids (e.g., PowerPoint, etc.), audience retention of the information increases 50%, the speaker’s goals are achieved 30% more often, group consensus occurs 20% more often, and there’s a 40% reduction in the amount of time required to present the information.
- In the United States, 53 million people – 4 in 10 – use instant messaging.
As the above examples show, data can be captivating. And while most business people love data and want to share it, much of their data causes the audience’s eyes to glaze over. In your presentation, try to incorporate some compelling data – data that packs that extra punch.
Delivering a presentation that soars requires effort during the preparation phase. And that includes searching for opportunities to use stories, anecdotes, examples, analogies, memorable lines, and compelling data.