Monday, January 25, 2010

Mindful Presenting, Part III: Delivery

On January 8th, the Bren Communications Center hosted a 4 hour workshop on developing and delivering compelling presentations. We used Nancy Duarte's slide:ology as our text. This post is focused on part III of the workshop: Delivery.
Presenter: Dr. Monica Bulger

While it is important to develop the content and visual impact of your presentations, the delivery of that content is an equally important--and sometimes overlooked--factor. Let's begin our examination of presentation delivery by looking to a pro: Steve Jobs. Check out this excerpt from his presentation introducing the MacBook Air.

What did you notice?

He really told a convincing story. Your presentation is not a dump of everything you know--remember to focus on the "so what?" aspect. Find the story in your data. You don't have to share every single finding, just what's important and/or what supports the story.

He made eye contact with his audience, including them in the story. Try to connect with at least 2-3 people in your audience. It will make you feel better and will draw the audience in.

His presentation is simple, clean (both in terms of visual impact and delivery). Notice that none of his slides had "titles." Think of the table he used to compare laptop, it was very simple: no column headings, not a lot of text. In terms of his delivery, the development of this product took years; people toiled over it. It would be tempting to put all that background info and data out there, but he would probably lose the audience. He didn't put all that out there, the level of detail in his presentation was insanely minimal! Focus on clarity and accuracy rather than on including every technical detail.

He speaks slowly. Every word has emphasis and the talk doesn't feel rushed. Rushing or speaking quickly (think back to our audience awareness tips) could make your audience feel anxious or uninterested.

There was a clear progression to his presentation. He took the audience from point A to point B and built up support for his "cause" along the way. Think about where your audience is at the start of your presentation, and where you want to move them. How can you lead them through that progression?

He had a STAR moment: when he pulled that laptop out of the envelope, everyone gasped and clapped. That star moment is what the audience will remember. What is your star moment? It could be a prop, a story, a data chart, images or pictures . . . but you want to have something like that envelope. You may even want to organize your whole presentation around your star moment. [see Duarte's slide:ology for details about STAR moments --> Something The Audience Remembers.]

While it didn't seem that Steve ever got nervous, it is important to have a game plan for if you get nervous. Think of something you can do or wear that will make you comfortable and shift the nervousness. If you freeze up, try asking the audience a rhetorical question. That shifts the focus away from you; they'll be thinking about the answer instead of staring at you.

For an example of a Bren group project presentation with two different presentation styles, check out the Green Pieces project video.

For additional examples of strong presentation delivery, check out Ted Talks. The Ted Talk organizers give their presenters the following "Ted Commandments."

  • Rehearse, but act spontaneous. Being too rehearsed is boring
  • Provide revelations. Be interesting; say something the audience isn't expecting.
  • Show vulnerability. Prioritize connecting with your audience, rather than being perfect. You're not expected to know everything (especially during the Q&A portion).
  • Don't be tedious.
  • Change the world.
  • Don't use bullet points!

If you have any questions, please contact the Communications Center to make an appointment. We are happy to help you with all forms of communication, not just writing!

Good luck!

--Audrey Tresham

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