Presentations…First Things First

Written by Anthony Demangone

All of us will be asked to make a presentation.  We may be the guest speaker at a high school graduation. Or we may be briefing the board on the performance of our credit union’s loan portfolio. But no matter the audience, a presentation is a presentation.

Before you even get started, think about the following.

  1. Who is your audience?  Now, that can be tricky. If you are speaking at your board, the board is the audience, right?  Sure.  But so is the CEO, who is also sitting in the room.  And the VP of marketing.  If you are speaking to a class of graduating seniors, they are the auidence.  But so is the administration of the school district, who also is in attendance.  In other words, know your audience, but understand that your message will ripple out through the organization.  A great message will be directed to the specific audience, while acknowledging the associated groups that may be along for the ride. 
  2. What do you want them to take away?  Are you giving a briefing?  Then give them data, recommendations, and take-aways.  Are you giving them a wake-up call?  Then paint a vivid picture of the problem, but don’t bore them.  Are you giving them a pep-talk?  Stories, stories, and more stories. And by all means, end on a high note!  The type of talk dictates the format and content.
  3. Stories.  People love them.  They remember them.  The tortoise and the hare.  The ant and the grasshopper. The more you can become a story-teller, the better.  So as you build your talk, ask yourself this.  Is there a story here to be told?