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Presentation success: 5 Tips to go from good to great

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Are you sometimes frustrated that nobody seems to listen to your presentations as closely as you would like, or to take the actions you are recommending afterwards? 

Having been in the same position myself, I also know that you probably work hard to make needed transformations in your presentation content and style, to get the attention of management, but they either don’t notice or even worse don’t give you the chance to show that you can do better. If so, then this post is for you.

Recently, I came across an inspiring – if long – video made by Sony Music about their segmentation work. Anyone who has run a customer segmentation will surely underst and that although the project itself can be quite complex, even daunting at times, it is nothing in comparison to the challenges you must face to present it to the organisation and to get them to action it.

In the video they speak of a number of ideas that they came up with to get the company to buy into the study and to make the adjustments in their customer approach that were identified by the results. If you haven’t yet seen it I would definitely stop reading and click on the link given above; it is an inspiration to all who watch it, I guarantee.

Watching this video made me realise that however complicated an analytics project might be, it is only when the sharing of the results is effective, that it leads to action and success. Therefore I came up with the following five tips to help bring the change and action you are hoping for from your presentations, be they the results of market research projects, the summary of information you have gathered from trawling the web, or any other form of knowledge gathering, analysis and sharing.

#1. Don’t tell me what you’ve done

I know we all want to be believed and we think that sharing all the work we have done, the hours of analysis, the thous ands of interviews carried out etc will impress the audience. This can’t be further from the truth. Either the listeners already know what was done, or at least can find more information in the report should they want to.

Instead, why not tell them what they need to do? What are the actions they need to consider, to take advantage of the challenge or opportunity you have uncovered? Let’s spend time talking about ideas rather than information.

#2. Dump the data

Almost any gathering of data and information provides more knowledge than anyone can swallow at one time. Instead of sharing everything you have found, why not share only the small proportion that led you to the decisions and actions you are proposing? If people want more they will certainly ask and in general most people ask for less rather than more data in a presentation. Use their time for dialogue rather than a monologue!

#3. Dramatize by Visualizing

A picture tells a thous and words, so why do you continue to torture people with text and tables? Show pictures instead, or simple graphs at the very least, so that people will listen to you rather than trying to analyse and comprehend all the numbers you are showing, or trying to read all the words on your slides.

One great example of how people love pictures rather than too many statistics, is the rise in popularity of Infographics; why not make one yourself and give it away at the end of the meeting, rather than sending a report? You can find many inspiring examples on different topics  here.

#4. Do tell a story

Nothing is worse than drowning in data and never-ending tables of information. Make a change by telling a story rather than showing tables of the results and findings. Everyone likes a good story and what’s more they remember it. How often do people remember tables of data?

Sevendots, a C3Centricity partner, prides itself on storytelling in presentations and their clients have been known to retell the story to their colleagues afterwards and also to use the visualisation elements they saw. It is so much easier to remember a story than an analysis.

#5. Don’t give results give actions

Analysts love to drown us all in data and information, when what we are looking for are insights and actions. So instead of presenting results, why not develop insights, by integrating all the other things you know about the subject under discussion and proposing actions or changes that would answer the issues or opportunities that have been identified? This way everyone goes away with concrete ideas of what needs to be done, rather than a sore head from all the data and information. If you have followed tip 4 then this will be a natural conclusion, as every story has an ending.

These are five ideas that I came up with to help the world move away from boring presentations to the more inspiring world of storytelling. They should certainly help your presentations be more successful. Do you have any other ideas on how to make information sharing fun for everyone? I would love to hear about your own best experiences; how did you inspire your audience?

For more on knowledge sharing and presentations, do check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and/

This post is based on one that first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on April 26th 2012.

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

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