Give Your Presentations a Hotel Room Double Check

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Think back to the last time you checked out of a hotel room and you walked around to make sure that you weren’t leaving anything. It’s amazing how watches, papers, and even clothes sometimes blend into the background and look like they belong where they are, even though they don’t.

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Some of the bullet points, images, charts and graphs in your PowerPoint slides and pitchbooks also look like they belong even though they should be removed to make your presentation shorter and more meaningful. You have become so close to the material that you need a process to distance yourself and see the presentation from a different perspective.

Know What Your Audience Knows

When you finish creating your slides, look through them with the eyes of your audience. Be objective in analyzing what you see on the screen and what you will say for each slide. In order to conduct this review process effectively, consider using the following:

  • blank legal pad
  • timer
  • highlighter and pen
  • voice recorder

Most smartphones have a timer and a voice recorder, and you likely already have the other items. When you follow the review process outlined below, you will prepare yourself to present a compelling story that is supported by your slides — not told by them. You need the connection and relationship with the audience more than your slides do.

Presentation Review Process

1.  Define Your Main Point

Write your overall recommendation on the front page of the legal pad in one sentence. Avoid creating a run-on sentence with multiple commas because your goal at this point is to define your reason for presenting. You will want this idea in one sentence because as you tell it to the audience, they can more easily remember and act on a clear and concise concept than a rambling series of thoughts.

2. Clear The Assumptions

Next, look at each slide slowly and deliberately. Write key points about what you intend to say and see how the text and visuals on the screen match with what the audience will hear. Record what you wrote and play it back while watching the slide. If you find yourself adding points, you’re probably stuffing too much information in one place.

During the playback, listen for what you didn’t say in addition to what you heard. As you practice this form of editing you will begin to notice the assumptions that creep into every presentation. Keep in mind the knowledge level of your audience and determine if you will need to explain a point to avoid them making an incorrect assumption or if you can just move on to the next point.

Good luck with these steps and let me know how they are working for you.