Since I teach Entertainment and Music Business students, I find myself researching presentations in the business world quite often. INC.com’s “Leadership” section has proven a valuable resource, and most of our “Links of the Week” come from there. The third and final link comes from research I’ve been doing for an article I am writing for Andrew Dlugan’s Six Minutes blog.
In “5 Ways to Get People to Actually Listen to You,” Maria Tabaka lists a few ways to engage your audience in your next presentation. These five ways include using the pause effectively; engaging people before the speech begins; grabbing attention with a powerful attention-getter; applying verbal clues to content; and recapping the important pieces of your speech (Source). Tabaka’s advice will definitely engage your audience in your next presentation, but I would also add that in every speech you give from now on, you must always include an element of storytelling.
Margaret Heffernan emphasizes the importance of storytelling in “3 Characteristics of Amazing Presentations.” Heffernan developed these three tips after her first TED Global visit. Her advice is as follows: 1) stories are important, 2) images are meaningless – with one exception, 3) enthusiasm isn’t everything (Source). I was intrigued after reading her second and third points because I immediately disagreed. Images are powerful and important, and enthusiasm is key! However, after reading her explanation, I did understand and support Heffernan’s ideas despite my initial hesitation.
Heffernan explained her second point well. She said, “I saw a lot of slides and most of them I can’t even remember. But the few that I do I’ll remember forever” (Source). So, as opposed to saying images are meaningless, I think we should maybe work on finding and using more impacting images. A powerful image can and will stick with you for days, weeks, and months… But a piece of clip art is worthless. People should spend more time on their visual communication in order for it to make that impact.
Heffernan didn’t say enthusiasm wasn’t important; instead, she argued that “[i]nformation really does matter and however evangelical the delivery, substance beats style every time” (Source). I agree and disagree because I believe that the combination of effective delivery, strong content, and impacting visuals makes a successful speech. This is why I love the presentation stool metaphor so much. We can’t argue that one “leg” is more important than the other because a speaker needs to cultivate and to develop three legs in order to present successfully. However, I do agree with Heffernan’s assertion that all show with no substance does not a presentation make.
Our third and final link of the week is a throwback from Presentation Zen. Garr Reynolds wrote, “One Secret to a Healthy Life (And a Great Presentation)” back in 2007. We can apply this concept to presentations because we don’t want to stuff our audiences full of way too much information. Imagine finishing a presentation and leaving your audience wanting more! Garr Reynolds says, “My advice is this: no matter how much time you are given, never ever go over time, and in fact finish a bit before your allotted time is up” (Source). Since I typically use every moment of my allotted time, this is definitely something I need to work on in future presentations and speeches.
What great public speaking and presentation articles have you been reading lately?