We have all seen overly long presentations, which we didn’t remember much about. And yet, when our turn comes to present, we tend to do exactly what we blame others for. The result: our presentations are also too long, with a lot of unnecessary details against the background of slides filled with tables and bullet points!
Some of the excuses we hear most often are: “Yes, but I have too many things to say,” or “my subjects are more complicated,” … Of course, your subjects are complex. And, obviously, it is very complicated to keep it simple. But if you can’t do it, who can? Leading experts do not indulge in the complex. On the contrary, they know how to make their expertise useful by making it simple and clear.
“ZEPRESENTERS are really sweet, but what do I do when I sincerely have too much to say?” First, be clear about the purpose of your speech. To help you sort through it, we propose 3 filters that will enable you to separate what is interesting, important and essential.
1st filter: be clear on “what is the idea?”
It’s an extremely powerful filter, because it’s the one that helps you refocus and essentialize your message. At ZEPRESENTERS this is our Key Question! When we work on the narrative thread of a presentation and we get lost amongst everything our clients have told us, our reflex is to go back to the basics: What is the idea?
This is the central element of your presentation, the reason you’re speaking! “What is the idea?” Is exactly what your audience wonders when they come to listen to you. It is your duty as a speaker to provide an inspiring, original and concrete response.
Each stage of your speech must be able to be synthesized in a simple sentence. This is how you’ll build the structure of your speech.
2nd filter: be clear on what your presentation should change.
For your speech to be useful, it must help change what the audience feels, thinks and does. It is the change that will make your presentation interesting and allow you to verify that you have an impact on them.
Take a step back vis-à-vis all the subjects you want to address. For each of them, ask yourself how they should participate to bring change. Does (the subject) change what the audience feels (reassured, motivated, surprised…), what they think (I hadn’t seen it like that, it’s true that we have to move, this is a good project…) and what they will do (sign the contract, set up a trial period, make an appointment, share new ideas…).
3rd filter: be clear about the time you have
We will never stop recommending that you stick to the timing. Especially since the duration of your presentation will influence your stage presence goal:
- If you only have 5 minutes, no need to talk about your whole project, you won’t have time. Give your audience just enough so that they want to know more.
- If you have 10 or 15 minutes, you’ll already be able to cover more subjects, but again you cannot say EVERYTHING. Identify the main resistance encountered by your project and deal with it as a priority. There is no point in getting lost in the details when real subjects threaten adherence to your idea. And, to compensate for the lack of time, prepare a more detailed document that you will leave with your audience.
- If you have a lot more time, beware! You may fall into a filling the gap trap. The time you are given is precious, pay attention to it. Be sure to maintain a structure that fosters attention. Just because you have the time doesn’t mean you have to be exhaustive! Only deal with what interests your audience directly, even if it means using the extra time to continue in a workshop setting or to share the floor with experts who will be able to deepen specific subjects.
Only through these three filters can you effectively build a presentation with the right amount of information and argumentation to have the desired effect on your audience. If you don’t, you will continue convincing yourself that:
- “Oh, by speaking quickly, it’ll work!”
In this case, your presentation is useless, because nobody will remember what you said. Your audience will not be able to follow you because they’ll be overwhelmed with information. And it will instill a feeling of frustration and stress in them, and in you. In this situation, your objective is no longer to share your idea but to succeed in getting to the end. And there, you’ve got the wrong goal! Always remember why you are there, why you speak and why it is important that these people hear it. Your idea is precious and it deserves that you defend it.
- “I’m going for it and we’ll see!”
Here, you risk having a completely disjointed speech. Time going by too quickly will make you jump from one idea to another. And, sooner or later, you’ll have to stop at a moment that you cannot control. You take the risk that people will leave with a poor understanding of your idea and / or a negative bias that you’ll pay for later. By doing so, you’ll lose control of the emotional trail that you leave behind.
In summary, it is very frustrating not to be able to say everything one has to say. Especially since our projects are important to us. But it’s up to you to do everything you can to enhance the moment when you tell others about it. And your first concern is to pay attention to your idea and to those who came to listen to you.