Archive for the ‘Presenting Ideas’ Category

Getting Your Idea Across… To Your Dad.

On purpose I had not told my dad I left my day job until just recently. He’s 84 so he leans toward the “stick with your job and save your money” train of thought. I figured I’d break it to him over lunch, that way if he was going to explode he would have to pay for his own food. After I explained the situation to him he was actually very supportive. Then came the inevitable “What are you working on” question. The dreaded question. Remember, he’s 84 and once told me that computers were a fad. He’s a bit more reasonable now. Oh, and he can’t see either. After making him sign an NDA (just kidding!) I broke it down for him and related it to things that he’s accustomed to using. In two minutes he understood it and said “I’d use that!” He’s a bit out of my age demo but what the hell, good enough. Three concepts that have really come about over the last five years that he’s never seen or used and he gets it. The power of a good story transcends everything. No techy details, no discussion of business models, innovation, marketing or sales. Just a good story built on concepts that he’s already familiar with.

I’ve seen people build sixty page powerpoint decks to convince others that they know what they’re talking about. In the end the audience’s eyes glaze over and they’re asking “WTF was that about?” If you can’t break your concepts down in five minutes for someone who has no idea of what your talking about to start with, perhaps you should reconsider what you’re saying.

It’s Relative.

And relate is the key word here – if you’re discussing new ideas then you need to find an existing concept for people to relate the new idea to. When I discuss SEO to small business owners they usually know that they need it but they’re not always sure why they need it. So I relate it to them like this:

You open a new store on a busy street. On that busy street is a sidewalk with significant affluent foot traffic. Do you have a large clean window on the side of the building facing the foot traffic? Of course because it shows off your merchandise. If you didn’t have it then people would walk right by not realizing what you’ve got for sale.

No business owner I’ve ever met has not understood this concept. I then change the “busy street” with “the internet”, “sidewalk” with Google and the window is SEO. You don’t need to know the mechanics of how a window is made, hung, and cleaned, but you do know what the outcome should be.

Your Audience

When presenting new ideas and concepts, nothing else is as important is knowing who your audience is. The phrase “know your audience” is an obvious cliche yet people still don’t consider it when they put a presentation together.  Ask yourself this: what’s the reason people will want to sit in front of me for an hour and hear me speak? If you think it’s because you’re a great presenter or the topic is riveting, you’re wrong. People attend for two reasons:

  • Kill time until something more interesting comes along
  • Find something they can use to their advantage later on

That’s it. Every other explanation is crap. You can’t do anything about the people who just want to kill time but you can put a hook out there for the rest of the people watching and listening to you. From here, you just need to figure out how to put your thoughts and ideas out there in a way that people will relate to.

The next time you’re asked to give a presentation try this – ask a few of the attendees what they’re most interested in and what they want to get out of your topic. Summarize those responses and address them in the first ten seconds of your presentation. Give people a real reason to listen to you.

Presenting Ideas

For the rest of this month I’ll be putting together a series of posts that focus on presenting thoughts and ideas in a way that people will understand and gravitate towards. If you’re a seasoned presenter then nothing here will be new. Much of the posts will be based on Garr Reyolds books Presentation Zen and Presentation Zen Design. Additional ideas come from How to Prepare, Stage, & Deliver Winning Presentations by Thomas Leech. Each of these resources help you identify your audience, your subject, your message and your desired outcome. They also help you focus on adding content and context that supports your idea rather than detracting from it. Hopefully by the end of all this we’ll all be invited to present at a local Pecha Kucha event. That’s my goal anyway, your intentions my vary widely. As always, feel free to contribute in the comments section.

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