Think about the last presentation you attended; what was the presenter’s point?
Designing a presentation around the most important point (the message) greatly increases the chances that the audience will remember it over time. This is why presentation design starts with crafting a clear concise message. One mistake presenters make is to assume an audience can remember multiple “takeaways”. The old saying is true; if everything is important then nothing is important.
I follow a message crafting framework that is taught by Dcode communications (www.dcodecommunications.com) in their presentation training program called Wavelength. They recommend crafting your message by completing the statement What I really want you to understand is _______ . The you is the audience for the particular presentation you are working on; the what is the one thing you need them to remember after you finish.
It sounds easy but it isn’t. A couple years ago my wife asked me to help her design a presentation on writing for (academic) publication; it took a lot of discussion and questions (from me) for her to identify the most important point she wanted the audience to take away. During our discussion her “message” often blended with the learning objectives of the presentation, but there is a difference. For even experienced presenters it can be challenging to boil down the content into a single message; the content supports the message.
Here are my tips for writing a presentation message:
Figure out your point, as in the question, “So what’s your point?” Your point is not your goal – your goal for the presentation is the result of the audience understanding, and acting on, your point.
Try and write your message in one clear and concise sentence, “What I really want you to understand is …”. If you are a Twitter user, think of it as a 140 character tweet.
Use the words “you or your” in the message. (Remember the You factor from a previous blog)
Don’t assume your message is obvious – is it obvious for everyone in the audience?
State your message early and late in your presentation but don’t actually say “What I really want you to understand is…” Design everything in your presentation (content and visuals) around supporting your message. As the folks at Dcode say, “Presentation is driven by message, not content.”
So remember, presentation design starts with crafting a clear concise message. Designing your presentation around your message will greatly increase the chance that your audience will remember it long after you leave the room.
What do you think?
Refuse to be boring