Why most presentations are doomed to fail

8th November 2016

Doing a presentation today?

If so, this short example will help…

I recently worked with a group of seven Executives, to prepare them for their annual staff conference. Each of them was delivering a presentation. They wanted me to help them write theirs, plus coach them on how best to deliver it on the day.

They’d all been on a presentation skills course, so ‘knew’ one of the golden rules was that their presentation should contain three key points max.

But I said: “But there are seven of you. If you all have three key points, that’s 21 key points. In one day. There’s no way your audience will remember them all. To them, it’ll be like drinking from a high-power water jet. A bit might go in, but most of it won’t, and it’ll be pretty unpleasant”.

So I showed them how to prepare their presentations in a better way:

  1. Find the DO. Start by identifying what you want your audience to DO differently as a result of your presentation. So, they hear you, they go back to their desks, and then they DO… well, what? Do they start doing something? Stop something they no longer need? (Your aim: you want to be able to say this DO in one simple sentence: “After I’ve spoken, I want them to (action) by (date)”
  2. Why they will. Identify the main reasons your audience’ll do your DO. Are there some compelling benefits to them? Do they hate what things are like now, so they’ll want to change to what you’re suggesting? Are there people they respect already doing this DO, and they’ll happily copy them? (Your aim is to find the (max three) best reasons. Often, the easiest way to find the best ones is to list all the possible reasons, and then choose the most compelling three)
  3. Why they won’t. What are the main reasons they won’t do your DO? No time? Can’t be bothered? It isn’t part of their core job? They’re busy anyway? They feel your company always has Flavours of the Month, and your ideas will no doubt die down soon? No accountability, so nothing bad will happen if they don’t do it? (Your aim: find the main 1-2 reasons they won’t, then identify compelling counter-arguments to remove these)
  4. Build your skeleton. You now have the key components of your content. So slot them together. One good technique is the 4Ps:
  • Position – explain the current situation
  • Problem – explain the problem with this current situation. This could be bad things about it. Or it could be highlighting the opportunities of doing something else. [This P might include using 1-2 of your “why they will” reasons from your prep – for example, if they hate the way things are now]
  • Possibilities – list all the possible courses of action. For example, stay as we are, change a bit, change a lot, etc
  • Propose – give your recommendation, with your reasons [this will include all the “why they wills”, plus also your counter-arguments for the “why they won’ts”]
  • DO – now, ask them to do the DO
  1. Make it interesting. You know what audiences like in a presentation – interactivity, humour, stories, good visuals, pleasant surprises, quizzes, and so on. So include some of these – after all, if you don’t, you aren’t interesting

This approach changed their conference. They realised their focus had been wrong – “what are the 21 key things we want to say?”, not “what are the 1-2 things we want them to happily DO differently?”

This exercise resulted in less presentations (two not seven), a shorter conference (two hours, not a full day) and – most importantly – everyone did the DO.

So, back to my question at the top of this Tip…

Action point

…Got a presentation today?

Use these five steps to make it better, shorter, more interesting, and more likely to work.

And, for more guidance on mastering the four key components of brilliant presentations – content, visuals, delivery and confidence – check out month four’s videos in my online video club.

Also, check out Paul McGee’s new book ‘How to Speak so People Really Listen’.

I was honoured to be asked to write the Foreword for it. There’s some great stuff in the book. As the back cover states, it’ll help you ‘get your audience to sit up and shut up when you stand up to speak.’

Even better, there’s a special offer if you buy it today. As Paul says…

I’m excited to announce that to celebrate the launch of my brand new book How to Speak so People Really Listen I’m giving away some exclusive content, plus the chance to win some great prizes.

If you buy the book from Amazon between today, November the 7th, and midnight on November the 9th, I’ll send you a bunch of exclusive articles, plus you’ll be entered into our draw to win one of the following prizes:

  • A free place on my Presentation Masterclass (worth £356)
  • Free membership to fellow trainer and bestselling author Andy Bounds’ video club, giving you access to 143 exclusive training videos to help you sell more (worth £408)
  • One of five sets of all my bestselling Capstone books (worth £78)
  • One of five sets of author Andy Bounds’ books (worth £33)
  • One set of networking specialist Andy Lopata’s books (worth £30)

Just by purchasing the book I will send you the following three exclusive articles I’ve written to help you raise your game as a communicator:

  • Without doubt the most powerful way to get your audience to remember your message
  • Are you guilty of any of these Seven Speaking Sins?
  • Stop showing slides that suck… the life out of your audience
  • Plus a bonus article: 7 Great Ways to Beat Your Presentation Nerves

All you have to do is:

Buy the book on Amazon between Nov 7th and Nov 9th. (Click here for the Amazon link)

Send proof of purchase (your Amazon receipt) to Kevin.Daniels@theSUMOguy.com.

And that’s it.

Amazon will send you the book, and we’ll send you the articles and enter you into the draw.

This offer is open to anyone, so feel free to forward this email to people you think would be interested.

So to purchase the book click here.

Want more Tuesday Tips?

Every week, Andy releases a Tuesday Tip via email and his website, let’s take you back to the archive of tips.

Back to Tuesdays Tips