OSRAM The Five Aspects of an Effective Presentation

OSRAM – The Five Components of an Effective Presentation Part 1 of 5 The Objective

How do you give an Effective Presentation?  What makes the difference between an average presentation and an effective presentation?

There are five main components of an effective business presentation. The acronym OSRAM should help you to remember them and help you to light up your audience. The five components are:

  • The Objective
  • The Speaker   
  • The Room
  • The Audience
  • The Message

You should consider each of these components in turn to maximise the effectiveness of your presentation.  Neglecting any individual component can ruin an otherwise successful presentation.    Put them together correctly and you will turn on a light in people’s heads; brighten up their lives; get your audience to see and understand things, about which they were previously in the dark.

This series of articles looks at each of these components in turn and discover what needs to be done to ensure the success of that component.

The Objective

What do you want the audience to do as a result of your presentation?

To create an effective presentation the first thing you need to decide is what the objective of the presentation is.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

But there may be more to that simple statement than you first perceive.  You could say that for a product presentation the objective is for the audience to learn about the product, but that would be a very poor objective, as there is no action associated with it and no way of measuring how successfully it has been accomplished.  The question you should ask yourself is ‘Okay, after my presentation they will know more about our product, but what do I want them to do next?’.

If your answer is ‘I want them to buy it’ then maybe you have gone to the other extreme.  This objective may be fine if you work on a market stall and sell a vegetable chopper that cuts, slices and dices everything from tomatoes to pineapples.  In that case, it may be realistic that after you have presented how easy it is to use and what a lovely job it makes, some people will want to buy one.  For a market stall presentation, " selling the product" is a very good and plausible objective, which is measured by the thickness of your wallet at the end of the day.

However, for most business-to-business sales, it is unlikely that the presentation will lead directly to the sale. The sale may happen months later by which time you will have forgotten how well the presentation went.

So what is your objective?  And how can you measure  your success?  The best objectives are SMART objectives.  

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

In the above examples objectives " getting the audience to know more about my products" is not easily measurable or very specific, and buying the product is not very timely.

A reasonable objective, when the presentation is the first real contact that members of the audience have had with your company, may be for 40% to arrange follow up meetings with your sales force.

When you are presenting at a conference on a subject, in which your company specialises, you may measure the success  by the number of people who come up to talk to you after you have finished. You can set yourself a target of say 10 people. If only two people want to talk to you afterwards, then it may be because your presentation did not stir up enough interest. If over 20 people come to talk you, you will have exceeded your expectations.

As every presentation has an objective it is important that the presentation concludes with a call to action that informs, encourages and directs people to meet your objective.  If you want them to arrange a meeting with your sales force, you need to tell them to arrange that meeting and make it as easy as possible for them to do it.  Consider having the sales force join you after the presentation so they can talk to their prospective clients, there and then.

With an objective of having people to talk with you after a conference presentation, you need to tell the audience where you will be and that you would welcome the opportunity to discuss any aspect of the subject in more depth, on an individual basis, or answer any more specific questions that your presentation has raised in their minds. 

As you can see, by objective, what I am really talking about is what action you want the delegates to take following the presentation.

Of course, yours is not the only objective you need to consider.  What are the audience’s objectives likely to be?  What do they want to get from your presentation?  Understanding your audience and their objectives is the key to an effective presentation and is discussed in the section entitled ‘The Audience’. 

Your OSRAM objective should be SMART and remember to use a call to action at the end of your presentation to reinforce your objective.

 

OSRAM – The Five Components of an Effective Presentation - Part 2 of 5 The Speaker

The Speaker

That’s you!  Like it or not if you are giving a presentation you will be judged.    Knowing that you are being judged is often a major factor in why people are nervous about giving a presentation.  It is a perfectly normal reaction. My advice is to recognise that you are nervous, tell yourself that it is okay to be nervous and that it is perfectly normal to be nervous before a presentation and then try to put it to one side and get on with the presentation.

The biggest factor in your success as a speaker is your confidence.  If you are confident you will come across far better than if you are timid and nervous.  One technique to improve your self-confidence before a presentation, is to say aloud the following statements, preferably before anyone else arrives in the room:

‘I am poised, prepared, persuasive, positive and powerful.’

‘I feel composed, confident convincing, commanding and compelling.’

Write these two phrases on your first Cue Card. Say them aloud to convince yourself that they are true and you are more likely to give a confident, effective presentation.

Confidence is all a matter of self-belief.  You need to believe in yourself and you will be more confident, and come across as confident.  Do not over do it though.  Do not talk down to your audience they will never forgive you!

Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘No one can make you feel inferior unless you agree with it’.

As perception is far more important than reality, looking confident can mask an awful lot of nerves that are bubbling up under the surface.  The aim is to look like a swan gracefully gliding across the top of the water, keeping the feet, which are paddling like mad, hidden from view.  Like the majestic swan, how you look and how you dress are very important in instilling that confidence in yourself and in your audience.

Look out of place because of the way you are dressed and it will affect how well your message is taken.  Although many businesses have a dress down policy these days, if you are presenting to a business audience it is usually advisably for a man to wear a suit and tie and a lady to wear a suit or similar business attire.  Shoes should also be polished, as it is surprising what assumptions are still made about a person in business, based on the state of their footwear.

When you are addressing a group of factory workers who are all dressed in overalls and you want to influence their behaviour, then a more casual appearance may be beneficial.  You may want to appear less like one of the managers and more like one of the team.  Every situation is different but there is never an excuse for not worrying about it.

By wearing clothes that make you feel good, it will help to boost your confidence.

Looking good is just part of it you also need to sound good.  This means three things:

  1. Speaking loudly enough so that people can hear what you are saying.
  2. Speaking clearly enough so people can understand the words that you are saying
  3. Omitting unnecessary words, grunts and groans.

When you are projecting your voice, you use your diaphragm.  This is completely different from shouting, which is achieved through muscles in your neck.  It should not hurt to project your voice unlike it does if you shout too much.

Finally, the most comforting thought to have before a presentation is that your audience want you to succeed.  From the very outset, they are on your side.  It is very rare to have an audience who does not want you to succeed, after all why would they be there.  Why would they want you to waste their time listening to someone who is a poor presenter or who does not have anything worth listening to. So go give it, with enthusiasm, emotion and energy.

OSRAM – The Five Components of an Effective Presentation - Part 3 of 5 The Room

The Room

Presentations take place in all types and sizes of rooms.  They may not even happen in a room at all.  The space and the facilities the room provides can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of any presentation.

I have 3 simple rules about the room you are using for your presentation.

 1. Arrive early

You should always arrive early so that you can become accustomed to the room itself and check it over before your audience arrive.

Arriving just before you are about to present, means there is no time to fix any problems that you may find and no time to grow accustomed to your surroundings.

When you are one of a series of presenters, it is often best to practise your entrance.  How will you get up to your speaking position?  What does it feel like standing there? Where will I put my notes?

A word of warning if you are using cue cards or notes, do not leave them on a lectern, keep them with you.  It is all too easy for the previous speaker or the MC to pick up your notes along with theirs, leaving you helpless.

Make a note of where people come in.  Will late comers be able to join without interrupting your flow?

 2. Make it tidy

You should minimise the number and level of distractions, so that the audience pays attention to you.

All too often presentations are made in an internal office room where various debris has been left behind by the previous occupant, including: writing on the white board or flipchart, books and papers left on desks or window sills, pieces of computer equipment that are not currently in use.  All these things work as distractions from your presentation and should be tidied up before your audience arrive.

Close the blinds on any windows in the room so that you audience are not distracted by what is going on outside.

Make sure everyone can see you and the screen or flipchart (assuming you are using one).  Try sitting in the back row to check that you can read the content of your slides. While you are there look around the room and make a note of anything that you can see that you do not need for the presentation and then remove those items.

 3. Make sure that you know how to operate all the equipment

Now, I know you wouldn’t normally try giving a presentation if you didn’t know the basics of how any technology you are using works, but have you really thought through all the things that could happen during your presentation.

Do not forget to turn off your mobile phone and the screensaver on your laptop. During rehearsals you will never spend more than 5 minutes on any one slide but in an actual presentation it is not unusual for some one to ask a question and you can be on the same slide for 15 minutes or so, which is when your screen saver will pop up. No matter how politically correct your screen saver is, it is very unlikely that it was intended to form part of the presentation.  

These days many other background tasks running on a PC can also interrupt your presentation such as " You have mail" messages, Instant Messaging text, anti-virus scans etc. try to turn all these things off before the presentation.

Test the pens to make sure they all work, if you are going to use a flipchart or whiteboard.

To make sure people can hear you, ask a friend or colleague to sit in the back row during the presentation, they can then signal to you if your voice is too quiet.

When you are using a microphone, make sure you know how to turn it on, and do not forget to turn it off when you leave the stage.  You do not want your private conversations being broadcast to the whole room.

While I’m on the subject of microphones, don’t be tempted to tap it or shout " testing, one, two, three" to see if it working, it will make you look very unprofessional.

With modern projection equipment, you should not need to turn the lights down for people to see the screen; however, it is always wise to check that there are no awkward reflections, which might interfere with people's vision.

 

OSRAM – The Five Components of an Effective Presentation - Part 4 of 5 The Audience

The Message

Last but by no means least of the five components of an effective business presentation, is your message.  It is surprising where the time goes to when you get up and start talking.  In a 30 to 45 minute presentation, you have only time to get across three main to points.

Keep it simple!  If you cannot state your central message in one or two sentences, you probably have not narrowed your topic enough, or clarified your thoughts enough.

  • Decide on three key points.
  • Develop supporting evidence for each key point.  Include statistics, stories or examples.
  • Develop a strong introduction and powerful conclusion with a call to action.
  • Use visual aids, which help to communicate your message.
  • Perform the presentation with enthusiasm, variety and passion.

I have 3 golden rules for making your presentation memorable:

 1.  Never let them get ahead

This first rule is more about ensuring people listen rather than making it memorable, however if your audience don’t listen in the first place they are very unlikely to remember anything.

As soon as your audience gets ahead of you and thinks that they know what you are going to say next, they will stop listening. After all, why bother listening if you already know it?

How can your audience get ahead of you?

The classic way is if you put up a slide with 5 or 6 bullet points and start talking your way down the list. While you are on the first point they will have read them all and will be ahead of you.

Another classic is giving out handouts of the slides before the presentation. Everyone is likely to read ahead, to see what you will be talking about and will already have decided if you might be worth listening too, even before you stand up to speak.

 2.  Just Do It

My second rule comes from a saying by Confucius:

        I hear – I forget

        I see – I remember

        I do – I understand

While this may not always be true, after all, there are some things you hear that you will never forget, I think the general gist is true. Take driving to a new location as an example. The first time you go you need to look at the map to see how to get there but if you drove their one day you can invariable drive their again later without looking at the map. However if you were a passenger on the first trip and then have to drive there yourself another time, you will probably need to check the maps again. This is because when you drove you actually did it and understand where the location is, when you were a passenger you just heard and saw but didn’t really understand where you were going.

What has this to do with presentations? If you really want your audience to understand what you are talking about you need to get them to do things. Either physically or mentally. Make them think, ask them questions, get them to participate, not just sit and listen.

Take them on a journey where they imagine using all their senses, describe what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it smells or tastes like and what it will feel like to do something.

 3.  Do it in Threes

For some reason that I can not explain, the human brain remembers three things better than it does two or four. Politicians and advertising executives have used this in speeches and in advertising for thousands of years.

Vini Vidi Vici  (I came, I saw, I conquered) - as Caesar said.

Grace Pace Space  – Jaguar’s tagline in the 50’s

Just Do It  – From Nike

The tag line " Just Do It" is not " Just get on with it" or even " Do It" which logically you may think would have more impact and be more memorable. It is " Just Do It" because of the rule of 3. 

However, it does not even have to have just 3 words as long as the rhythm is right:

" The Best 4x4 by Far" - from Landrover works because the way it is said has three phrases " The Best" , " 4x4" , " By Far" .

I apologise that the above examples have a very British flavour to them, but thinks of tag lines from your favourite vendors are I’m sure many of them will be in " threes" .

When you cannot do it in three, then use 5 7 or 10.  Groups of 2, 4, 6, 8 or 9 are not recommended, as they are less memorable.  Do not ask me why, they just do not work as well.  I suppose that is why we have a top ten, and not a top six or top nine.

Politicians, leaders and advertising executives all use the rule of three.  Now you know about it, look out for it.  You will be surprised how often it is used.

As you can see from the examples above another favourite memory technique is to use alliteration.  Combing the rule of 3 with some alliteration is particularly powerful.

Location, Location, Location - the great rule of property

Education, Education, Education – what this country needs according to New Labour

So have three benefits at the end of your presentation, it will be easy to say, sound better and be more memorable.

Those are my 5 Aspects of an Effective Business Presentation, Objective, Speaker, Room, Audience, Message. You need to consider all 5 aspects before you stand up to talk, otherwise you could be heading for a disaster.

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