Does this sound like you?
"I have so much information to cover until I don't know where to start, what to do, or how to do it!"
"My presentations are pretty good, but I want them to be great! I need a systematic plan so I'm not just going through the motions, muddling through."
"What will make a difference with my audience?! What will draw them in, and - and most importantly!!! - what will get everyone to buy what I'm selling?!"
What you must know is it is entirely possible to make your presentation an enjoyable and worthwhile experience for both you and your audience without it being more work for yourself.
Here are the four steps you take to smoothly make your way through preparing for your presentations with grace, determination, excitement, passion, and enthusiasm. Make this a consistent practice - resolve this is what you will do every time you prepare a presentation - and you will joyfully break free of the presentation preparation nightmare and cut your prep work by 50%.
1. Give the audience real information! – If you take away nothing else from this post, remember this: The number one reason adults will listen to you is they know why they should listen to you. Immediately clarify for the audience what everyone will know or be able to do upon conclusion of the class session. Clarify how your presentation/product/topic connects to the last presentation/meeting and/or how it connects to the work everyone does. Explain how this one puzzle piece (your presentation) fits with the larger picture; clearly illustrate how your session will contribute to moving listeners closer to personal/professional goals and what new knowledge or abilities they will have once the presentation concludes - knowledge or abilities they did not have when they stepped into your presentation.
2. Decide exactly how you will excite everyone. – Your listeners' heart rates need increasing. And this is done by giving them the benefits of the presentation and why it has any importance to them. Why should they care? Seriously. What is going to make their eyebrows go up? What is going to put them on the edges of their seats. This is intricately connected to the act of informing listeners. Recall the number one reason adults will listen to you … there is an excitement when you realize you can enhance yourself, your performance, your potential on some level as a result of having done X. Get your audiences to crave what you have to share with them! If you convey how some aspect of listeners' lives or work will be better as a result of having spent their time engaged with you and your content during a presentation, then listeners cannot help but to bubble with excitement.
3. Draw them in with your excitement. – Capture and hold fast listeners' attention with your passion. Give your honest reaction to the content. Show that you love it. Find a way to love it if need be! Change your voice or use your body language to speak for you. Pull them into your world and have them feel what you're feeling so there is no way their attention can get diverted from what is occurring at the front of that room.
4. Make it a two-way street. – Get listeners immediately talking, writing, and/or moving so they know your voice, ideas, and actions are not the only valid ones in the room. Audience members learn more, lean in more, are better inclined to act as you want them to act if the idea feels like it came from them. Did you catch that? If they are involved ... if the presentation is a two-way street ... if their voices are heard, then they are more likely to get on your bandwagon and pick up what you're putting down.
Sure, this takes conscious thought and preparation, but there is always this alternative: walk in, say “hello,” then painfully subject your audience to 15, 30, or even 60 or more minutes of a sit-and-get session.
Once you resolve to do these four things in your presentations - once you get this down-pat and perform this practice on a consistent basis, your prep work is much further along and so is your audience's desire to act!