Stop presenting, start telling – Part II

Did we mention that humans have a short attention (yes we did – in the previous post.Well I got some more bad news: we are also self-concentrated. As a result, we take the first few minutes of any presentation to figure WIIFU (What’s In It For Us). If we identify the benefit and we are interested – we listen. If we don’t – we get distracted. Two suggestions to address the challenge effectively:

• Introduction – Before you start your presentation, ask the audience about the 3 important things they would be interested in hearing about throughout your presentation. Don’t forget: It’s not about you and what you are interested in telling them; It’s about them and what they want to hear. Internalize the inputs and adapt accordingly. It might even force you to change the order of your presentation – It’s a hard call but it will help you meet your objectives.

• Structure – We already talked on the previous post about the reverse approach – make the conclusion, state the arguments and support them if needed. To compliment that, here in the Silicon Valley there is a saying “Tell them what you’ll tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them”. Structure your presentation that way and the audience will know what to expect and will remember clearly your bottom line.

As mentioned, we get distracted during presentations. One should be able, even if he hasn’t listened to you for a while, to easily understand the main idea in the slide. Help your audience understand your slides easily:

• Meaningful titles –Use titles to convey messages. Instead of “revenues” use “strong Q2 momentum”. Instead of summary use “investment in XX will lead to YY”. Think about your titles like a title of an article in the newspaper. Would your title attract “readers” to read the “article”?

• Highlight important words/figures – Don’t let the audience guess: If a certain number is important – highlight it. If a certain word is important – highlight it. If your slide is about growing profits – highlight growth and highlight profit. If you show a graph that demonstrates the strong growth in Q3 profits – circle Q3 profit using a different color. Pointers, colors and font size will help you convey your story in an easy way.

Finally some other recommendations:

• A picture is worth a thousand words – We are all attracted to graphics more than text. A good picture can sometime tell a story much better than any presenter or story-teller.

• Use links more frequently – Many times we put in the presentation slides that “might be relevant”. Use links instead! Prepare your 10-15 “must have” slides and put links to other slides that elaborate on certain topics.

• Personalize – Most of the time your audience will be different and so should your presentation. There are small things you can customize in your presentation with little effort that can dramatically improve the results: an example you are giving, a picture you are showing or a term you are using. Learn about your audience before the presentation, especially key people in the audience that are more important to you, and adapt the presentation to content they can easily relate to.

Good luck with your next presentation !

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About shanishoham

After 14 years of General Management and incubating/scaling new businesses & organizations for enterprises (established a $55M mobile business and a $100M/400 employees global division), I became an investor Today I’m a board member/mentor with 5 incubators & micro-VCs and involved with many other private & public incubators around the world. I also founded a VC firm named 2020 and I'm a member with a number of angel groups so i get to see & work with many startups, innovation centers and other parties across the ecosystem. I’m an alumnus of the Stanford Graduate School of business - Sloan Master in Management program, a 10 months intensive program for 57 carefully selected experienced Executives and leaders from all around the world.

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