Jul 24, 2011

The Presentation DNA 2.0 - Digging Deeper

In my last post, we discovered the 'process flow' which is common to all presentations.

(A) You want to achieve something (goal)
(B) You cannot achieve it without me (audience)
(C) You come and talk to me (message)
(D) I do what I feel is right (action)
(E) You are happy about what I did (this is the actual outcome, whereas the goal was the desired outcome)


I have spent the last so many hours pondering over this process and digging into it more and more. The obvious areas which have been uncovered are as under.

(A) You want to achieve something (goal)


Every presentation has a goal but the goal might not be so easy to understand. It needs to be clearly defined. Further, you might have multiple goals, in which case you might need to cut down or prioritize. Lastly, you should know 'why' you have such a goal. Is it unrealistic or too easy to achieve?

Example: A sales man comes to you to sell an apartment. Every presentation he makes to you need not have the same objective 'selling'. The first might be to introduce the project and company and excite your interest. The second might be to share more (in case you too show interest). The third might be to close the deal and sign the papers. The message of each presentation will thus vary.

While you might know why you are presenting, it would be better if you write it down. You might be in for a surprise! Take the case of TED; the mecca of presentations today. Why do people present at TED? While the forum is the same, the reasons are varied. You need to know yours.

To summarise:
1. Define your goal.
2. Prioritise goals (if many)
3. Know why you are setting this goal


(B) You cannot achieve it without me (audience)

Once you freeze your goal, the rest of the work is just to make sure you meet the set goal. If the apartment salesman is presenting for the first time to employees of a company, his goal might just be lead generation. Get contacts of people who are interested and follow up with them later.

With the given objective, before he can frame his message, he will set out to understand the kind of people he is talking to. This is the 'know your audience' bit which presentation trainers talk about.

1. Who is the audience? What do they do? How many are there? Are they all similar?

2. Why are they the audience? Why not someone else?
3. What do they expect from you?
4. Why should they listen to you? (are you going to help them)

While the salesman (the presenter) is drawing a sketch of his audience, it is worthwhile for him to ponder about himself. Who is he?

5. Who are you?
6. What makes you eligible to present to this audience? (why should they listen to you)
7. Why should they believe in you?


(C) You come and talk to me (message)

The salesman is now clear about himself, his audience and his goal. The next step will be to frame the message. What he must say, so that you will do what he wants you to do? Here are certain pointers to help the salesman..

1. What are the things he wants to cover in his presentation?
2. Which are the main points and which ones are secondary?

Once the message is clear, the other questions come to fore.

3. How is he going to deliver the talk?
- Does he need PowerPoint slides?
- Does he need to be there in person OR an email will do OR he can arrange a video conference?
- Where and when is the presentation?

We will explore in greater detail about each of these questions in future posts. As of now, I am just listing out what we need to address.


(D) I do what I feel is right (action)

Every presentation ends with an action. What is the action which the salesman wanted these people to take? Since his goal was to generate contacts of interested people (leads) the action he expects from his audience is: "Yes I am interested. Tell me more. Here is my email id and contact number."

He must make it easy for people to take this action.

1. First, plan the 'specific' action you want the audience to take.
2. Make it easy for them to take the action.


(E) You are happy about what I did (actual outcome)


The presentation is over.
Nobody in the audience takes any interest and the salesman goes back home depressed. He is now scouting for more leads.

Whether the outcome is good or bad, there needs to be a post-evaluation of the presentation. What went wrong and what went right? You need to look back on the actual presentation,. If possible, seek feedback. Presentation is an art and not a one time job. We will get better at it as we give more and more of these.



This post is part of the on-going project on this blog 'The Presentation Code' where we are trying to unravel what is common to all presentations. To find out the DNA and be able to ace every presentation.