Friday, April 25, 2008
Developing Your Presentation's Flow
Authenticity Rule #5 is Know Your Flow.
How do you decide how your presentation is going to flow? What is your presentation going to be about, what goes into the outline, and what comes first, second, third, etc.? Here is a simple strategy I have used roughly 2,250 times (I have given over 150 presentations every year for 15 years.)
1. Begin by asking, "What is at the core of my presentation?" Your answer should be the most important concept, idea, or learning lesson you want the audience to walk away with. It should be simple, clear and meaningful. Everything in your presentation should make your core stronger, clearer to understand, and/or easier to remember/implement.
2. Detail out the presentation logistics: number of people, presentation length, room set-up, audience ages/backgrounds/reasons for being there/expectations/etc., AV tools at your disposal, and organization makeup/history/challenges/etc.
3. Brainstorm a long list of options to support your core and that will fit with the logistics. Your list will include stories, more points, quotes, visuals, pictures, props, activities, exercises, videos, handout pieces, facts, data, etc. This list should be intentionally long. Everything won't make it into the presentation, but you need to get all your options in front of you.
4. Now you are ready to start putting together your flow (i.e. - your outline). This is simply an exercise in pulling elements out of your options list and moving them into your outline based on these characteristics: powerful, fresh, creative, deep in meaning, easy to understand, authentic to you and your story/experience/expertise, and connects back to your core (point #1.) Take into consideration the time elements and remember to plan on using only 80% of your allotted time. The cardinal sin for any presenter is going over time. This normal happens by trying to fit in too much information. Remember, less is more.
This strategy will work for short presentations (1-10 minutes), keynotes, workshops, breakout sessions, informational presentations, etc. Remember to save not only your final flow, but also your options list. We use Microsoft Outlook Exchange for our contacts/calendar/etc. and Blackberry devices. I save the final flows and the option lists in both the calendar notes for the events and the memo/notes feature. This allows me to be able to access both via my laptop and my Crackleberry and everything is backed up on both devices, as well as the Exchange server.
A future post will officially introduce to Authenticity Rule #5...
The 7-Iron Rule - Know Your Flow
You can only improve after you learn how a correct presentation flow feels.