How to Create a TED-Worthy Presentation: Recap

urlBusiness Presentations: do your eyes glaze over at the first sight of a bullet point during business presentations? Do you find yourself checking Facebook, assuring yourself you’ll simply review the slides after the presentation but of course never do?

As a social media manager, I’ve listened to and delivered many a business presentation, and I have honestly been frustrated by the challenge of articulating cool and complex ideas in a way that grabs people’s attention and sticks with them. Why should a business strategy be any less compelling than a TED talk about DNA and genomics?

That’s why I attended an awesome workshop called “How to Create a TED-worthy Presentation,” delivered by Brooke Estin, a TED speaker herself who has coached many professionals interested in turning their presentations into, to quote TED, “ideas worth spreading.” You can check out the rest of Brooke’s presentation for more insights and tips. Here are 5 that really helped me:

Understand: who your audience is.

imgresAs part of the PR team for Kiva, a start-up that makes loans to entrepreneurs around the world, Brooke was assigned to deliver a presentation about Kiva to… 5-year-olds in kindergarten. How do you get a 5-year-old’s attention about something like loans and entrepreneurship? Her solution: start her presentation with a photo guessing game. She showed images of various personalities, including Oprah Winfrey and President Barack Obama, and challenged the kids to guess who they were. Once she had their attention, she shared how they’re connected to Kiva, and what Kiva does.

I love this story. It is important to know who your audience is and talk to them on their level. Your audience: attendance voluntary or required?  What generation are you talking to? Will they understand jokes about movies made in the 70s? Or will they relate better to current pop culture references? Identify the audience, and appeal to them with easily relatable interests and commonalities.

Figure out: What do you want your audience to believe, know, and do?

What do you want your audience to believe about your presentation? What do you want your audience to learn from it? And what are the next steps you want your audience to achieve from there? Being able to answer these questions clarifies why you’re giving this presentation and what you want your audience to get out of it. Once you know these answers, design every part of your presentation, from the slides to the bullet points to the visuals, to reiterate these answers. This will give your audience a more cohesive and compelling message. For example, as a social media consultant that delivers competitive analyses and strategic plans to prospective clients, I realized that my goal isn’t to just present a lot of information. My goal is to show them that they need help with their social media, help them see how they’re doing compared to their competitors, and motivate them to work with us.

Alternatively, figure out: If you want your audience to remember one thing from your presentation, what would it be? This is the moral of your story (more about that in a bit) that you want your audience to take home.

Tell stories

moralofthestoryAs human beings, we love stories. We can’t get enough of the classic hero’s journey. That’s why movies like Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz continue to enchant us over the decades.

Your presentation should also tell a tale. View your audience as the hero – Luke Skywalker, for example. You are the mentor (Obi-Wan and Yoda) giving them a gift (Jedi training) through your presentation. This gift will empower them to overcome obstacles (defeat Darth Vader and the empire) and make them a better person (a wise Jedi Knight).

Excite your audience to join your mission, hook and reel them in again and again throughout your presentation with stories or the element of surprise.

photoIn my last presentation, rather than launching with a dry overview, I shared a surprising picture comparing the election of the pope in 2005 and 2013. I knew my audience was alive before 2005 and would be awed and shocked into remembering how much life has changed. Once I had their attention, I related the image to social media, and why social media is important for building their brand.

Visuals: simpler is better

Brooke had a lot of great design hacks, tips, and tricks, including making sure your images follow the rule of thirds, have alignment, and include white space. You can see more examples here. In general, simpler is better when it comes to image

visuals3Photo Credit: Brooke Estin presentation

Another note about visuals: data

datavisualOne of the biggest pitfalls for business presentations occur around presenting data. Too often, we like to try to convince and impress our audience that we know the facts and numbers and did our research.  (Photo Credit: Brooke Estin presentation.)

visual1Your audience doesn’t want to wade through all that. Make it really easy for them to know what the conclusion is by highlighting it or pulling it out: xx% of teens are on Facebook daily. x out of y individuals on the planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. (Photo Credit: Brooke Estin presentation.)

I truly suggest that you take a look at Brook Estin’s presentation when you have a chance. Taking your business presentation to a business experience is the best step towards engaging clients, coworkers, and impressing the audience!

J.Lowe
Social Media Manager
@Jenn_Lowe

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