A presentation must revolve around an idea. Do you know why?
What is the worst news in a presentation? Probably the one that indicates that the audience was confused, little clarified or without realizing what was the main message of the speaker. A pitch should inform, seduce and clarify. Intrigue or arouse curiosity, if we want. And there is a simple technique to achieve this: choosing a main message, a kind of slogan, an idea that is repeated throughout the presentation.
Take the example of one of the gurus of this art, Steve Jobs. Something very useful, effective, is to choose a short sentence to describe or represent the product / service. Jobs, explains this article from “Forbes”, used the “twitter-friendly headline” technique, a short phrase that sums up the product and that easily gets into the mind of the listener. Once, at the iPhone presentation, the genius behind Apple had a slide with just this phrase: “Apple reinvents the phone”. Throughout the presentation he repeated that phrase, which was no longer enough to enter through the eyes as it started to sound good in the ear. “Forbes” searched for that phrase on Google and found 25,000 results and links, a large part concerned articles and blogs that covered that presentation. It was no longer just Steve Jobs to guarantee that Apple had reinvented the phone as we know it, the community that navigates that area also used the same phrase, as if validating everything. A communication success therefore.
This technique of placing the universe of the presentation around an idea is also useful for the speaker, not only during the pitch but also when preparing, thinking and writing. The less fats, the more focus. It’s called going to the bone. If the theme gives freedom to ramblings, the narrative is often wild, indomitable, unpredictable. It is the opposite of what we want. A dispersed speaker gains a dispersed audience, which will eventually hang up.
A typical speaker mistake and easily avoidable is the anticipation of questions from the audience, answering several things at the same time, creating an excess of information that is difficult to manage. Then there is the temptation to make the subject even more complex, sometimes for ego reasons other than because it is your jargon, the way you have always spoken and heard, moving away without realizing who is listening to you. There, again, an idea, a message, a slogan, without fats, will help to keep the focus on the topic. Later, if the questions come, very well, we try to decode what is necessary. A tip: usually when the audience doesn’t notice something, the speaker is responsible. It never hurts to say.
A slide, a strong message. Its content should be almost entirely visual, without text, at the limit of such a key idea or, if there is a need to expand the theme, create slides with sub-themes. The slide accompanies the speaker, does not replace it. The objective is to eliminate noise, to give importance to the message, to what is said, leaving the twitter-friendly headline to sparkle around the room. Returning to Steve Jobs, the American had an average of 40 words per slide, although many of them did not even have 20 words. They were always simple, essentially for the eyes. It was not so much a crutch as a “this is what we are”.
Without forgetting the stories, of course. “In 1984, Apple announced the first Macintosh. It didn’t just change Apple, it changed the entire computer industry. In 2001, we announced the first iPod. It didn’t just change the way we listened to music, it changed the entire music industry, ”said Jobs at the launch of an iPhone. The message had the virtue of demonstrating the impact of the company’s creations, locating us in time, almost functioning as a promise to be part of an unstoppable revolution. The message is simple, clear. Selling an idea and telling stories are synonymous with seducing the other, and for that reason there must always be a primary message.
There is a phrase attributed to Albert Einstein that sums up this whole theme: “If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand enough of the subject”.