Want people who hear you speak to remember you long after your presentation is over? Follow my top five rules for success.
You’re standing at a podium. In front of you is a crowd of friends, peers, and co-workers. Sitting. Staring at you.
Your presentation is about to begin.
Will your presentation wow the crowd?
Or will your presentation be background noise for attendees as they look at their smartphones and laptops?
Giving a presentation can be nerve-wracking — even if you’ve done it dozens of times. (Here are 15 ways you can calm your nerves before a big presentation.)
I’ve done about 40 presentations at marketing conferences around the globe. I’ve given presentations to crowds of 300 people and audiences of more than 2,500.
When I started giving presentations, I was pretty terrible.
In fact, for a long time I fell victim to the worst speaking mistake possible: kicking off my presentation by introducing myself. Sorry, but nobody who pays to attend an event really wants to hear you talking about how awesome you are.
Today I’m consistently rated among the top one or two speakers at the events where I’m invited to speak.
What changed? Storytelling.
You need to jump right into the story. Hook your audience so they’ll stay interested in your presentation.
Will people remember your presentation long after you give it? Or will you be forgotten moments after leaving the stage?
It all depends on what happens in the next few minutes.
Here are five things you can do to make your presentation more memorable.
1. Carefully Review Your Feedback
It doesn’t matter how great you think your latest presentation was. You’re biased.
The organizers will send you feedback from attendees. Look at it!
Carefully review your feedback, whether it’s filled with the highest praise or brutally harsh criticism. Use it to improve your next presentation.
As you review your feedback, take a Net Promoter Score mentality. Most people don’t rate speakers as a 0 or 1. If they don’t like you they’ll probably give you a 3.
So look at your own rankings from this perspective. Consider any scores of 1–3 as terrible and only 4 and 5 are great.
2. Dissect Your Presentations
After your presentation is done, open Twitter and see what people tweeted about during your session. Also, watch recordings of your talk.
Figure out what resonated with your audience. Was it a particular slide? A genius idea or tip you shared? Something funny you said?
What were the high points?
Clone those. Make more of those. What works once tends to work again.
3. Play to Your Strengths
I’m a terrible speaker. I admit it.
So how in the world do my presentations get such high ratings?
You can’t always fix your weaknesses. But you can hide them by maximizing your strengths.
For me, that means using kooky visuals — funny memes and lots of graphics featuring unicorns, donkeys, rockets and rainbows. Like this:
In my case, a whole lot of focused enthusiasm and energy makes up for a lack of eloquence. An enthusiastic speech beats an eloquent one just about any day!
4. Catchphrases & Repetition
Larry Kim presentations and unicorns go together like apple and pie.
Why unicorns? Because they work. They aren’t boring, like hard to read text, bullet points, and charts.
Now should you go use unicorns? No, I already called dibs — back off, buddy!
But find your own original thing that will become part of your personal branding.
Theme your presentation around your thing. Become known for that thing. And once you find that thing that works, keep using it!
5. Add a Second Ending
I like to end my presentations not once, but twice.
The first ending is to wrap up the main points I want to make.
For example, I recently presented on the topic of search engine optimization (SEO), going over some interesting original research I had conducted and insights. After I was done with that, it was time for your typical summary page:
After seeing that, most people in the audience were probably expecting a “Thank You” page because most presentations would end there.
But this is when I like to take it up to a higher level, making it broader and more strategic.
It was strategic and tactical. Interesting and actionable.
By the time it was over, the people basically felt like they had gotten two presentations in one. So they didn’t just learn that something is important or why it’s important — they learned how to adjust for that thing and use it to their advantage.
What Does it All Mean?
In 1956, film director Alfred Hitchcock remade one of his own movies called “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” In comparing the two works, he said: “Let’s say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional.”
Even one of the greatest movie directors of all time was at one time an amateur.
The same is true of speakers. You will only improve as you learn and give more presentations.
Even if your presentations are amateurish today, someday you might just become one of the most sought after and memorable speakers in your industry.
Oh, and be a unicorn in a sea of donkeys!
Originally published on Inc.com
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