Last week I was hired to help someone finalize a presentation. Specifically, “Can you help me with my PowerPoint slides?” My client, let’s call him Henry, is a dentist and an expert in the business of dentistry.
This request isn’t unusual. People tend to spend a lot of time and energy on slides. I’m not dismissing the importance of clean and clear slides. But, as I looked at Henry's 200 slides, (yes, you read that right), I noticed that the slides weren’t the primary problem.
In a distracted and overwhelming world, no one is going to listen to Henry, or to you if they have to work very hard to understand WHY it’s worth their time to do so.
An audience needs context.
Imagine if a stranger showed up at a meeting and started talking to you, relaying interesting information, but without telling you WHY any of it matters to your success or wellbeing.
My guess is that you’d tune out pretty quickly.
To keep your audience tuned in, communicate your intentions for the conversation. You always want to provide context before you dive into content.
“Here is what I know about you, your situation, your problems, your hopes and fears. I’m about to share information that can help.”
Henry’s presentation lacked structure, as well. He had included a lot of great information, but it was hard to track where he was going at any given time. When people are confused about structure, their minds wander.
Help your audience follow along by being clear about your plan. Yes, it may feel a bit stiff, but your audience will appreciate knowing specific destinations on the journey.
“During the next hour, I will talk about 3 specific steps you can take to increase the revenue of your dental practice…and I’ll back up these recommendations with data and case studies. Please feel free to ask questions along the way. Let’s begin with my first recommendation…”
Once Henry was clear on the context and the structure, we finally got around to looking at his slides. He was able to see for himself that about 30% of the slides had to go. We moved some slides around and I gave him tips on color and design. At the end of our session, Henry felt confident that he was ready to ace his presentation.
If you need help with context and structure, let me know. I’m here to assist!