At the finale to the Future of Design Business Incubator Contest the three finaists have to make a presentation. They are given some guidelines like “you should include up to 3 minutes of background (where you’ve come from/what you’ve done) and then the rest is a look forward: How you plan to build your company, what you think your challenges will be, and how you plan to overcome them. We want to gain a strong sense of you as business managers, planners, and leaders.”
For many this was their first time on a stage and certainly their first time making such a public pitch. For many it was also the first time using Powerpoint!
Presentations take many forms -- to a prospective buyer (often the bigger the store the bigger the presentation) or an editor or perhaps even an audience when asked to speak at an event — but fundamentally they have a lot in common. You are trying to tell your story, in an engaging way, in order to get some result that’s important to you be it sales, press or just an overall positive impression.
Lesson #1 – Start with paper, not with powerpoint.
She thinks you’ll craft a better story if you write out your story first before you get all bogged down with making it a slide. Personally, I use powerpoint slides to move me through a seminar but I’m teaching more than presenting so maybe there’s a difference there. But I’ll surely give her point a try.
Lesson #2 — Tell your story in three acts.
Here’s where I think designers making presentations could certainly learn a thing or two. Remembering that you’re telling a story and not just reciting your history or your features & benefits is a great idea.
By structuring your presentation with a clear and compelling beginning, middle, and end, you’ll take your audience on an exciting journey … the kind that inspires action, sells products, and funds businesses.
Lesson #3 — A picture is worth a 1,000 words. Use them liberally. And smartly.
Lesson #4 – Emotions get our attention
Tell a story that evokes an emotional response — empathy, sympathy, adoration, humor — and people will remember more of your presentation and relate to it better.
Lesson #5 – Simple language is best.
Steer clear of flowery language, long poetic descriptions and any technical jargon when you’re talking about your work and your inspiration. Be real and be simple. This is not a high school thesis but a conversation with your audience to illicit a feeling, mood or specific outcome.
Lesson #6 — No bullet points — illustrate the points.
Lesson #7 — Rehearse … a lot!
Marta says 30 hours. I confess, I’ve never rehearsed 30 hours worth but again, I’m teaching not presenting. I can tell you that now knowing her 30-hour rule should I find myself needing to present I will surely do my best to get to 30 hours of rehearsal.
She ends with opining that great presenters don’t just provide “information;” they convey meaning — and they do it with passion.
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