Bringing your Presentation Content to Life – A Four Step Recipe

How many presentations have you watched that were so dull the presenter might as well have given you a blanket and a cup of cocoa to finish off the process of putting you to sleep?

Do you ever worry that your presentations are sending people into a deep slumber?

How can you bring your presentations to life and keep your audience interested (and awake!)?

Most of us know that any presentation should include three key elements – the introduction, the main body and the conclusion. This blog focusses on what we need to do to bring the main body of our presentations to life. So, if you could do with some tips on this (or know someone else who could) read on…

When it comes to the content of presentations, great presenters know the four step recipe for serving up something that is well prepared, appetising and full of flavour… So, what does the recipe involve?

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1. Basic Ingredients

Most presenters, even those lacking in experience, usually get this bit right. Your presentation content needs some foundation, so the first step is to make sure you’ve got your basic ingredients – your meat and veg. When you present your basic ingredients, you need to INFORM your audience by providing information and facts about your subject matter. Unfortunately, some presenters do nothing more than provide the basic ingredients (and sometimes in very large quantities!) This will only result in a bland presentation which is memorable for all the wrong reasons. Remember to present the basics but then you need to add some flavour…

2. Adding the Flavour

If you only stick to the facts and basic information when delivering your presentation content, it won’t be long before your audience are reaching for their blankets. You need to add flavour to bring your presentation content to life. How do you do this in a presentation? You need to ELABORATE on your content. There are lots of ‘flavours’ to choose from – offering opinion, sharing anecdotes, providing examples, talking through case studies, highlighting relevant statistics and research, quoting experts, visual illustration, personal experience, etc. All of these will add flavour to your basic ingredients…BUT they do require some careful thought and consideration. Don’t rely on these ‘flavours’ finding their own way into the pot. You need to prepare them in advance and stir them in at various intervals, where they’re most needed – for example, to fill in detail and aid understanding.

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3. Spicing it Up

So now you’ve got the basic ingredients and you’ve added some flavours, your presentation content is starting to resemble an inviting meal, but there’s still more steps to follow in your recipe. You need to prepare your spices. Spices provide EMPHASIS and great presenters recognise the importance of helping the audience understand and remember the key messages. You can provide emphasis in a number of ways

  • using repetition
  • asking rhetorical questions
  • adding some humour or a ‘light touch’
  • using labelling – “My next point is the most surprising piece of the jigsaw…”
  • using numbering – “There are three key differences between…”
  • providing ‘signposts’- “We’ve identified the benefits but now let’s move on to explore the challenges…”

Points can be emphasised visually too – using slides or other presentation medium. If you spice up your presentation by providing emphasis, it’s more likely your audience will take away the important messages. Some of your spices can be prepared in advance, others might be delivered ‘in the moment’. Whichever spices you choose, just remember to add them in.

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4. Considering Dietary Requirements

Having a well prepared presentation that contains the right ingredients and flavours to make it interesting and ‘appetising’ is great. But, have you considered how relevant it is for your audience? Will they be able to ‘digest’ it? Focussing on your audience and LINKING the presentation to them will ensure they don’t end up with a bad case of ‘presentation intolerance’.

In order to take into account your audience’s ‘dietary requirements’ you need to review (or find out) their needs and interests, then reference those into the content of your presentation. Other ways to link with your audience include: providing examples that relate to their context and making personalised comments (“as Elizabeth commented earlier, the business is struggling to…”). To engage your audience, don’t just spoon feed them, get them involved in the feeding process – ask them thought provoking questions that relate to their situations, challenges, interests; invite them to share areas of their expertise during the presentation and encourage them to ask questions. This will highlight that you have prepared your presentation content with your audience in mind. This will make your presentation easier to digest and a more engaging experience.

So, next time you’re preparing the content for an important presentation, think of yourself as the chef and your audience as the diners. Create a culinary feast which has the right ingredients, lots of flavour, just the right amount of spice and takes into account your diners’ tastes and preferences. It takes time to prepare a great meal and it takes time to prepare a great presentation. So my advice is this: follow the Four Step Recipe to ensure you leave your audience feeling satisfied…rather than leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth!

Look out for next month’s blog on Talent Programmes.

Posted by Gill Bonello

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