Why are most corporate presentations and speeches generally weak? I"ve wondered this for years. Despite all the fancy Powerpoint graphics, consultants and all the money spent, most presentations fall short of the mark. It can all be avoided by following a few simple steps--I'll mention seven key ones here. I'm intentionally skipping over delivery techniques, which I'll cover later.
* Have a clear message: many speakers start in reverse, by loading their speeches with content. They start with content--data, product information, etc--and it gets weighted down before it starts. Better to think on one clear message you want to deliver, or perhaps three-and build everything around it. The simpler, the better (think about the theme of The Tipping Point. Simple). If they don't remember anything else, what is the one message you want them to remember when they leave?
* Have something to say: Develop a strong opinion on an issue, state it clearly, and never meander or apologize for it. Audiences respect someone with a clear, single-minded point of view, even if they don't agree with it. Be interesting, engaging, and stick by your guns. And think big. Jobs talks about revolutionizing the music and entertainment business--how much bigger can you get than that?
* Wrap it around a story. People quickly forget facts and statistics, but a well delivered story will stay with them a long time. The story has to be on message, well thought out, and delivered in a punchy fashion-- make it impactful. Practice it until you have every word and pause memorized,and then practice some more. Sometimes it can be as simple as an experience with a customer, or on the baseball field--but it has to make a clear point and resonate with the audience. Stories are the soul of your speech. The best speakers are great story-tellers.