We all have a story. The main goal when presenting one is to pass on the essence of the story to your audiences. In order to achieve that, you’d need a few ingredients. They are easy to learn and implement, it only takes attention, and awareness to them.
When you want to pass on some message you need to:
- Figure out what story you want to tell
- Focus on 1 or 2 key points
- Fine tune your message to your audience
- Feature it in front of a mirror
So 5F’s will lead you to a great presentation. OK, we should look into each F a bit more.
Figure out what story you want to tell
This is THE most crucial point. This is basically the known rule of “Look before you leap”. You can’t present a good presentation without a story in most cases (there are exceptions). So in order for your presentation to be good, think about a story. It would be nice if it had a structure, but it can be a good story even if it does not have all the parts of a story structure. Once you decided what would be the story, the climax should be your key points.
Focus on 1 or 2 key points
A good story can’t have many key points closing the story. Unless you are George R. R. Martin, it will be very hard on you and your audiences to maintain so many characters and plot paths, and things will get messy with untied paths. So pick only one or maximum two key points, and build the story to lead to them, in a reasonable way. They should be very clear, and focused while being strong enough to remain as a takeaway.
Little red riding hood would have a very weak message if it would end with “and Little red riding hood decided not to go into the forest alone, and went home”. We want to have a takeaway of how dangerous it is to go alone, if the character would not face that fate, the message would be much weaker.
Fine tune your message to your audience
The way you deliver your story has a lot to do with your audience. You won’t tell the same story to a group of children, teens and adults. As such, you would not tell the same story to customers, coworkers and investors. Your storytelling must match your audience. If you are going to talk at a conference you need to know how are the target audiences. It is really important you gather as much information about your audience before you tell your story. What moves them, what interests them, and how you can provide them with the best value while passing on your message.
Feature it in front of a mirror
Your slides are just about 20% of your story, the other 80% is the way you tell it. If you look like you have no confidence, you speak in a monotonic voice, and serve the feeling you wish it was all over already, your presentation is not going to be a success. Yes, it might be stressing to speak in front of people in a public speaking setup, but you should get over it, and be brave. I have seen people use a technique I call “being vulnerable” and share with the audience they are stressed. It might, or might not work, depends on the setting and how you pass along as authentic when doing so. In order to see how your presentation is going you need to be able to view it.
The common suggestion is to rehearse in front of a mirror. I actually think a much better way is to rehearse in front of a video camera. It has two benefits, the first, you can reply and see how well it went, and the second, if your presentation will be filmed, it gives you the feeling of standing in front of a camera.
Show your video to others before you go live, ask for feedback after taking that video in order to improve before the real thing. You’d be surprised what people will notice, and what they would say. And no, people won’t hesitate to tell you the truth because they fear to hurt you. If you will ask for feedback, most people will tell you the truth.
After the presentation happened, don’t forget to collect feedback on it to improve for the next time. After all, if you were good, it is likely you will be invite to speak at other places, so it is a good idea to collect feedback and work on the points given.
Good luck with your story!