n the last issue, the power of presentations as a marketing tool was discussed.
Presentations come in all types and word counts — from the 30-second elevator speech given when
someone asks what your company does to an hour-long educational seminar at an industry
Before one can organize a presentation, material must be chosen. The real charge is
choosing what not to use, because there’s always more material than one could ever present in the
time allotted. As discussed last month, a common pitfall is trying to cram too much information
into a single presentation.
“Presentations For Dummies” is one in the “For Dummies” book series, and a great
reference for those who don’t have a lot of presentation experience. It’s also a good refresher for
those who are looking for ways to be more effective speakers. A memorable presentation depends on
two critical areas — choosing the right material and selecting the right pattern of delivery. Here
are a few tips to help you pick the material to make your point:
Use a variety of materials. A variety of materials makes your presentation more
interesting and increases the odds that each member of the audience will find something to
remember. Anecdotes, statistics, quotes and real-life examples all are excellent ways to help your
audience retain your presentation points.
Keep the audience in mind. Analyzing your audience before you stand before them is
the best way to choose your material and a good way to prevent disaster. You don’t want to talk
down to your audience; neither do you want to talk above their heads. Understand what they already
know and what they need to know.
Have some material in reserve. Always have an extra example, statistic or anecdote
at the ready. You want to be prepared should you need another example to explain your point. Extra
material also is handy for the question and answer session afterwards.
Now that you have your material, it’s time to organize it into a presentation that
follows a pattern. Studies show that messages are better understood and interpreted when presented
in a pattern. Here are some common patterns used when crafting presentations:
Chronological: A presentation organized in
a past/present/future pattern is easy to follow. This pattern works well, for
example, when talking about a series of events in the life of a company or new product
Problem/Solution: With this pattern, you simply state a problem and offer a
solution or competing solutions.
Cause/Effect: This pattern works well with scientific presentations. It also is a
great pattern to use when talking about profits or losses and what led to them.
Theory/Practice: This pattern works well when discussing a topic that didn’t quite
work out as planned. What sounds good in theory doesn’t always pan out in practice, and this
pattern is a good one to use when revealing the gap.
Catch Phrase or Cliché: For example: “Actions speak louder than words. While we
talk a lot about creating a corporate culture of empowered employees, our actions say otherwise.”&
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Break Down A Quote: For example, “Advertising Guru David Ogilvy said, ‘If it doesn’p
p p p p p p p p p ; o t sell, it isn’t creative.’ Let’s look at that quote. Does it apply only to
our marketing campaigns or to our product lines, as well?”
Divide A Word: Use a word such as “PROFITS” and break it down with each letter
a point in your presentation. For example, “Today we’re talking about PROFIT. P
stands for Product. The first factor in realizing our Profit potential is our Product.”
Physical Location: This pattern works well when talking about happenings in
various locations, such as multiple manufacturing facilities, varying geographic sales markets or
different target markets for your product lines.
Topical: This pattern organizes information on a single topic into a logical,
common-sense arrangement. This pattern works well for sales training or any other single-topic