25 Jul 2011

What is your Goal?

Every presentation must has a clearly defined goal.

Sounds too simple and obvious? Are you saying, "Of course I know why I am making the presentation. How can I make a presentation otherwise?"

Old readers of the blog might recall a survey I conducted among managers. I had asked what they hated most in a presentation. The results was surprising. The 3rd most disliked thing in a presentation was 'the presenter's lack of clarity on the purpose of the presentation.' While you might think it as obvious, your colleagues are clueless on what you are talking about.

The solution:
You need to write down your goal on a piece of paper. This clarity on your goal (purpose) will help you frame your message better.

What is your goal?
A presentation can have multiple goals. As discussed in the last post, a salesman can choose to generate leads (contacts), warm up the leads (share information and make you more interested) or close the sale. Every sales presentation is not meant to always close the sale.
Having this clarity will help you know what to talk and what to set aside for future.

Types of Goals
A presentation can have the following 5 goals:

1. To inform
2. To entertain
3. To persuade
4. To inspire
5. To instruct

On July 11, I made a list of 15 types of presentations. Let us see if all these 15 types of presentations can fall under these 5 categories.


All the 15 presentations indeed fall under one of the categories. What is worth noting is that most of these presentations are trying to inform others or persuade others. What is even more important is that most presentations where the stakes are high are about persuading (convincing) others.


Lessons for us:

1. Decide on a goal for your presentation. A goal which makes you better off.
2. Write it down for your reference.
3. Your goal is going to determine what you will say in the presentation.





This post is part of the on-going project on this blog 'The Presentation Code' where I am trying to unravel what is common to all presentations. To find out the DNA and be able to ace every presentation.

24 Jul 2011

The Presentation DNA 2.0 - Digging Deeper

In my last post, we discovered the 'process flow' which is common to all presentations.

(A) You want to achieve something (goal)
(B) You cannot achieve it without me (audience)
(C) You come and talk to me (message)
(D) I do what I feel is right (action)
(E) You are happy about what I did (this is the actual outcome, whereas the goal was the desired outcome)


I have spent the last so many hours pondering over this process and digging into it more and more. The obvious areas which have been uncovered are as under.

(A) You want to achieve something (goal)


Every presentation has a goal but the goal might not be so easy to understand. It needs to be clearly defined. Further, you might have multiple goals, in which case you might need to cut down or prioritize. Lastly, you should know 'why' you have such a goal. Is it unrealistic or too easy to achieve?

Example: A sales man comes to you to sell an apartment. Every presentation he makes to you need not have the same objective 'selling'. The first might be to introduce the project and company and excite your interest. The second might be to share more (in case you too show interest). The third might be to close the deal and sign the papers. The message of each presentation will thus vary.

While you might know why you are presenting, it would be better if you write it down. You might be in for a surprise! Take the case of TED; the mecca of presentations today. Why do people present at TED? While the forum is the same, the reasons are varied. You need to know yours.

To summarise:
1. Define your goal.
2. Prioritise goals (if many)
3. Know why you are setting this goal


(B) You cannot achieve it without me (audience)

Once you freeze your goal, the rest of the work is just to make sure you meet the set goal. If the apartment salesman is presenting for the first time to employees of a company, his goal might just be lead generation. Get contacts of people who are interested and follow up with them later.

With the given objective, before he can frame his message, he will set out to understand the kind of people he is talking to. This is the 'know your audience' bit which presentation trainers talk about.

1. Who is the audience? What do they do? How many are there? Are they all similar?

2. Why are they the audience? Why not someone else?
3. What do they expect from you?
4. Why should they listen to you? (are you going to help them)

While the salesman (the presenter) is drawing a sketch of his audience, it is worthwhile for him to ponder about himself. Who is he?

5. Who are you?
6. What makes you eligible to present to this audience? (why should they listen to you)
7. Why should they believe in you?


(C) You come and talk to me (message)

The salesman is now clear about himself, his audience and his goal. The next step will be to frame the message. What he must say, so that you will do what he wants you to do? Here are certain pointers to help the salesman..

1. What are the things he wants to cover in his presentation?
2. Which are the main points and which ones are secondary?

Once the message is clear, the other questions come to fore.

3. How is he going to deliver the talk?
- Does he need PowerPoint slides?
- Does he need to be there in person OR an email will do OR he can arrange a video conference?
- Where and when is the presentation?

We will explore in greater detail about each of these questions in future posts. As of now, I am just listing out what we need to address.


(D) I do what I feel is right (action)

Every presentation ends with an action. What is the action which the salesman wanted these people to take? Since his goal was to generate contacts of interested people (leads) the action he expects from his audience is: "Yes I am interested. Tell me more. Here is my email id and contact number."

He must make it easy for people to take this action.

1. First, plan the 'specific' action you want the audience to take.
2. Make it easy for them to take the action.


(E) You are happy about what I did (actual outcome)


The presentation is over.
Nobody in the audience takes any interest and the salesman goes back home depressed. He is now scouting for more leads.

Whether the outcome is good or bad, there needs to be a post-evaluation of the presentation. What went wrong and what went right? You need to look back on the actual presentation,. If possible, seek feedback. Presentation is an art and not a one time job. We will get better at it as we give more and more of these.



This post is part of the on-going project on this blog 'The Presentation Code' where we are trying to unravel what is common to all presentations. To find out the DNA and be able to ace every presentation.

23 Jul 2011

The Presentation DNA

On July 18 I announced the start of a 'special project' on this blog. It is called the 'The Presentation Code.' The purpose is to study all kinds of presentations and arrive at the DNA of a presentation. One code which is common to all presentations. If we get to know this DNA we will know how to champion every presentation.


In Search of the Presentation DNA

Presentation is nothing but an exchange of information with a purpose. You can be selling or seeking sponsorship or teaching. The basic construct, the basic process should be the same. Here is how I see it today:

What happens in every presentation?
(A) You want to achieve something (B) You cannot do it without me (C) So you come to me and talk to me (D) I do what I feel is right (E) You achieve or don't achieve what you wanted

Let us give these stages codes.
(A) You want to achieve something (B) You cannot do it without me (C) So you come to me and talk to me (D) I do what I feel is right (E) You achieve or don't achieve what you wanted

Here are few examples:
Sales presentation made by a sales manager: You (the sales manager) want to sell apartments (stage A). You are looking out for buyers. I am one of them (B). You come to me and tell me about the apartment. You tell me about its strategic location and affordable cost. Don't all of them say the same thing :) (C). I buy it (D). You meet your objective (E). If I don't buy, you catch another prospective buyer and start all over again.


MS Excel Training conducted by the trainer: You (the trainer) wants everyone to learn MS Excel (A). That is why you exist in the organisation. I am a management trainee in the company. For you to meet your job description, you need to train me (B). You come to me, all prepared and take me through the software (C). I am understanding and learning the tricks (D). You have done your job! (E) It all looks so easy on paper :-)

Quarterly Business Review Presentation by marketing manager: Your job is to grow market share and make good profits for your Dento-Sento toothpaste brand. Every quarter you have to make a presentation to your CEO on the progress. She reviews your work, your achievement versus your target. You want to impress your CEO and share with her how hard you have worked in the last quarter (A). On your CEO's review depends your career (B). You go prepared for the meeting with all statistics and reports (C). Your CEO shares her feedback (D). You are able to impress the CEO (or else start counting your days).

This model will fit into other kinds of presentations we well. After all, every presentation is a communication with a purpose.

What's the lesson then?
Two lessons to start off with.

1. Every presentation has a goal. The salesman wants to sell, the trainer wants to train and the manager wants to impress. The goal is the most important element of a presentation. We need to 'clearly' define this before we begin to work on our presentation.

2. There are 5 elements to every presentation. (1) First there is you. (2) You want to achieve your goal. (3) You cannot achieve it without me. (4) So you come and talk to me. You tell me your message. (5) After listening and talking to you, I do something. Depending on what I do you either achieve or fail to achieve your goal.

These elements are: You, Your goal, Your audience, Your message and The action which your audience takes. Every element is important and needs to be understood and taken care of.


In future posts we will build upon what we have learnt today. Till then think about the ABCDE's of your upcoming presentation.

19 Jul 2011

Two Presentations You MUST See

slideshare is a great resource on any topic under the sun. I stumbled upon two nice presentations which are there on slideshare. The first is by Garr Reynolds. Garr is sharing 3 great lessons from John Medina's book 'Brain Rules'. The second is by Enrique Garcia Cota and I discovered it thanks to Jan Schultink. Both these presentations are very different but you must take a look (especially's Garr's).


18 Jul 2011

[Blog Project] The Presentation Code

Over the next few months (or more) I am going to work on a project which I have named 'The Presentation Code'.

I strongly believe there has to be a single 'formula' to crack every kind of presentation. Be it a sales presentation or an academic paper presentation or a training presentation, there has to be a set of standard practices.

What is important is - the formula should be easy to understand and easy to apply.

The outcome of this project - will be a set of simple rules which help you crack your presentation. It will be like a reference document which you refer to before every presentation.

A small request - Share your ideas/views as I start upon this journey. All I can promise is, the journey will be exciting and enriching.

Let us unravel the code.

11 Jul 2011

What are the various types of presentations?

I am trying to build a list of various types of presentations. Various occasions when we make a presentation. All of them.

Here is the list which comes to my mind. I will keep adding to it as more come to mind.

1. Sales presentation (to sell)
2. Sponsorship presentation (to get sponsors)
3. Investor presentation (to raise funds for business)
4. Marketing budget proposal (to get budgets for marketing activities)
5. Teaching
6. Business review (periodical review)
7. Press conference (to TV channels)
8. Market research
9. Training
10. TED / Ignite / PechaKucha (to inspire/share/entertain)
11. Academic project presentation (in schools and colleges)
12. Research papers (by doctors, professors)
13. Business plan presentation
14. Presentation by management consultants
15. Investor / analyst presentation by top management of listed companies


Just this many? There has to be more.
What is missing? Add to this by leaving a comment.

5 Jul 2011

How to prepare for your Ignite / PechaKucha Presentation?

You have been invited to talk at the upcoming Ignite or PechaKucha Night in your city. You are now preparing yourself for the big night. Here are important tips which will help you deliver an awesome presentation. I have presented at Ignite and I found the experience very unique. You too will enjoy it provided you go prepared.

Ignite & PechaKucha are similar (Ignite has 20 slides auto advancing every 15 seconds whereas PK has 20 slides auto advancing every 20 seconds) hence the way to prepare for both is also similar.


Preparing for Ignite / PechaKucha (PK)

This presentation is going to be very different from anything you have ever delivered, so prepare yourself mentally. Here is what makes Ignite or PK presentation unique:


1. You only have 5 minutes to talk at Ignite (6 min 40 secs for PK). That is a very small amount of time.

2. The slides advance automatically every 15 seconds. Just 15 seconds!


Other than this there is nothing different about Ignite or PK. But these two changes impact your presentation significantly. First, you have just 5 minutes to talk and second your slides move every 15 seconds.


What do these changes mean for your presentation?

1. Be Concise - Since time is very limited, you have to be very focussed, to the point and concise. No long sentences. No going round and round. You will have to eliminate content ruthlessly.

Less time also means, no time for introduction at the start. You need to come straight to the point and start from the word go. In order to do this you need to prepare well.

2. Rehearse well - If your slides are moving every 15 seconds your words and your slide cannot mismatch. You cannot talk about the head when the slide has moved on to the image of the tail. This sync (of you and your slide) will only come by practice. The more you practice the better command you have over your stuff.

Do not get bogged down by the time limit and the slides auto advancing every 15 seconds. There are ways to manage this. These restrictions look tough early on but can be aced with practice.



Let us talk about other important elements of your presentation now.

A. Objective of your presentation: You have been invited to talk because there is something unique about you. You have done something worth talking about. Write down "why you are giving the talk?". What is the main objective of your talk? Is it to inform or inspire or entertain?


B. Key Messages: In a short time of 5 minutes not much can be communicated. Your talk is just to 'ignite' the minds of the audience. It is just exciting them about the topic. They will definitely think about what you have said later on.

Given the paucity of time, you need to decide on the few (not more than 3) key things which people should remember after they go back home. Your audience will listen to many talks that night and cannot possibly remember everything that all the speakers said.

"What are the few things they should remember from your presentation?" Unless they remember, how will they spread the word or act on it?


C. Confidence: Since most Ignite or PK speakers are talking for the first time to such a large gathering they need to be confident. You are special that's why you are on stage. You have done something which the world wants to know. You don't have to be too humble and under confident. Be confident and share it with the world. Share it with confidence.


D. Your audience: Your audience will be a very mixed lot. People from all over the city. You might want to ask the organisers what kind of people are expected to come but I guess you can safely assume it is a very heterogeneous lot. Just make sure you keep your language 'jargon-free' so that even a layman can understand you. Appeal to everyone and keep it simple.


E. Audience expectation: The audience expects to be entertained, informed or inspired. I have heard a stand-up comedian, a politician, an actor, a teacher and all sorts of people at Ignite. Some fascinate us, some inspire us and some just entertain. You have to decide what you are upto (I discussed this in Point A above). Remember, your audience expects to have a good time and they want you to do well.


F. Preparation: You cannot prepare for this event the way you do for others. You must prepare your content and design your slides one week before the event. You will need a lot of rehearsal for the presentation. You will definitely need 10-15 hours of preparation (content, slides and rehearsal) to ace your presentation.

Write down all that you want to say on a piece of paper (or whiteboard). Then remove what is not essential. You need to cut content ruthlessly (since time is limited). Once you know what you will say, you should set up the flow. What comes where. Figure out the stuff to go on 20 slides (and only 1 idea per slide).

Now you need to stand up and deliver your talk. The same way you will do at the event except that the slides are yet to be made. Deliver it 10 times. You will realise that you will discover some new content while you speak. You will also figure out the logical flow by rehearsing like this.

Now sit down and edit your content and flow. Once again speak for few more times. Once you are comfortable with this, start making the slides.


G. Slide Design: Since a slide moves every 15 seconds, your audience will not be able to read more than a few words on the slides. If you expect them to listen to you and read the slides too, that's expecting too much. Since you are more important than your slides, make sure they focus on you. Slides should only be used to 'amplify or clarify' your idea. Using an image can emphasize your point (amplify) or make it easy to understand (clarify).

Use no more than few words per slide. Images will support your words and make the idea more powerful. Do not use bullet points at all.


H. Rehearsal: This is perhaps the most crucial part of any presentation but it is the most ignored part as well. You cannot afford not to rehearse. When time is less and slides are moving fast you have to be in 'top form'. It is like a 20-20 cricket match. You come out and start hitting the big runs from the first ball. There is no time to 'settle down' and 'find your rhythm'.

What you have to do is practice so hard and so many times that when you go live, you feel you have been there already. You have practiced so many times that you know what to say and when to say.



Other Do's and Don'ts

1. You will be talking to a gathering of 300-500. This means your audience will be sitting far away. Hence your font size should be large enough. Stick to a minimum font size of 40-50.

2. You cannot ask your organisers to go a slide back or to change the slide when you want. Please remember that the rules cannot be broken. The slides will change every 15 seconds. Rehearse atleast 20 times after your final slides are ready.

3. Watch videos of other Ignite or PK Nights so see what others have done in the past.

4. Use a friend or colleague as a sound board. Rehearse in front of this person and make sure you are open to her feedback and make changes accordingly.

5. Establishing credibility is important. People listen to you when you give them a reason to do so. What is your expertise? Why are you here in front of us? Why should we listen to you? This is important because you might not be a known figure.

Since the presentation time is just 5 minutes, you should brief the organisers well and make sure they give a good introduction before you start your presentation. Your introduction should establish your credibility on the topic (credibility = what gives you the right to speak on this topic?)

6. Speak with passion because that's what gets people hooked on. Passion shows.

7. Do not mug up (cram) what you will say on each slide. Do not use 'notes'. Remember the anchor points for each slide. With practice you will automatically remember the content and flow. Since you have not mugged up, you will sound natural.

8. The organisers might ask for your slides a week in advance. Find out your deadlines well in advance and live up to them.

9. If your text is not getting over in 15 seconds that's not a problem. You can say one point over two or three slides. Just make sure these slides have the same content. No one stops you from having the same text on 2 or 3 slides :-) (tip courtesy: Scott Berkun)

10. If you are presenting at Ignite and you have 5 minutes to talk, prepare for 4 minutes 30 seconds. Keep some buffer time. There is a high chance you will exceed your time.

11. Last piece of advise. Breathe easy, have fun and enjoy the night. Do not worry about how the presentation will go. If you have worked hard, it has to go well. Relax, breathe easy and enjoy those 5 minutes of stardom!


What more?
Here are some more tips you can check out:

1. Scott Berkun (Highly recommended 5 minute video)

If you are still with me then watch this 5 minute Ignite talk by Mr. Giridhar Rao. I liked his talk very much when I heard him live at Ignite Hyderabad Vol. 1. His passion is infectious.





If you have any queries about your presentation, drop in a comment. Best wishes with your upcoming talk. Tell us how it went.

2 Jul 2011

Make a Presentation on Google Plus

Google Plus seems to be the talk of the town. I too have joined G+ and am looking forward to it. However today I am not reviewing G+. I am restricting myself to the scope of my blog; presentations.

Suppose you were asked to make a presentation to 'Introduce Google Plus' to the world. How would you do that? If you don't know much about G+, think about Facebook. If you are asked to make a presentation to introduce FB to your friends how would you do that? Think before you read on.


Google Plus

A new way to socially network. Here are some unique things you can do with G+.

Circles - Put people into different circles. Relatives are in a different circle and colleagues in different. So your every status update is not visible to all. Choose which circle should see and which should not.

Huddle - A group chat feature where all 4 of you can chat at once and decide which movie to watch today evening.


Other than circles and huddle, there are hangouts, instant uploads, sparks, etc. New cool features which you will love to explain. But how?

Would you just speak these out? Will that not be so logical? Where is the excitement then? What will people remember from your presentation and talk about to others. The main objectives of your presentation are two: 1. Introduce users to the new features and 2. Excite them so much that the word spreads. They should go out and talk to their friends.


While you figure out how to make your presentation, check out what Google has done. They have prepared a series of small videos (that's a +1 from me for small videos). These one-minute videos introduce you to one feature of Google Plus. The attempt is to appeal to emotions and show the real happiness or benefit you derive from the feature. Google is not just telling us what the features do. It is trying to tell us how each feature will make our lives better and happier. Good attempt! Watch these small videos and tell me how you will 'rate' this presentation?