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You know the well-worn phrase; ‘it’s the journey that matters, not the destination’. While it’s a good mantra for life, when it comes to presentations, the destination – your prime objective – is king. Without precise coordinates, presentations have no direction, and waste the audiences fuel on waffle, leading them down the road to nowhere.
Last month we explored Point A – your audience. When your presentation begins, you need to understand them in their current state before you can get them moving. Now though, let’s look at Point B: the future state of your audience – where you want them to be. This is your destination.
When I ask a struggling presenter what their objective is I often get something back along the lines of “Well… ah… I’m going to talk about this thing and then this thing.” Nowhere do they describe what they want their audience to do. That’s the answer I’m really looking for.
When you deliver the last line of your presentation, your audience should be changed somehow. Your objective defines what that change is. Perhaps your audience is to adopt a new way of doing things or make a big decision? It’s important to define what success for your presentation looks like and keep this in mind at every stage of your presentation’s development.
To get your audience from Point A to Point B you need to get these 3 things straight:
In three sentences or less, can you define the crux of your idea? And, once you’ve got this down, what is the action that needs to be taken? Distilling your idea is no easy feat when you have lots to say but, in my experience, the more succinct you are, the more coherent you can be.
Example scenario: An overhaul of a marketing strategy
Big idea: While sales are staying above board, growth has stagnated in the past quarter. The company needs to rethink their strategy and adopt new marketing platforms to scale up.
This is what you want your audience to think, feel and do – specifically and realistically – at the end of your presentation. In our example scenario, these considerations would be:
Something isn’t working in the marketing strategy and there needs to be a deployment of new tools.
Concerned and motivated to act.
Agree to bring the strategy to review and implement new suggestions.
Inevitably there might be some reasons why your audience doesn’t want to go to point B. Identifying them early gives you the best chance to overcome them.
These obstacles are often:
In our example: Perhaps some senior employees still hold dear to the strategy that worked in 2018 and are reluctant to try anything new. The resources required to implement your ideas might keep their finger off the trigger too. How can you convince them otherwise?
Have your big idea, outcome and obstacles defined and you’re on track to get your audience (at least a few steps closer) to your desired destination.
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