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3 Checkpoints to Presentation Success: A Practical Guide to Creating a Clear & Focused Presentation
In this article you will learn how to craft a powerful pitch structure that will help strip away the anxiety of getting up on stage.
If you’ve ever been to a networking meetup or a business co-op meeting, they say that speaking is a fantastic way to get your business exposed to many people. It’s a great way to add value and to be known within your business community.
One of the problems holding us back is that we have no idea how to structure a presentation that makes an audience listen, reflect and act on what you say. We approach the podium and we’re convinced that if we speak about ourselves and what we offer on-the-fly, people will sit up and take notice and take action!
One of the biggest misconceptions of good public speaking is that you don’t need to rehearse and prepare. If we prepare and rehearse our presentations then it looks like it comes off as staged and inauthentic.
That’s simply not true.
If you watch a live musical performance, do you think the musicians on stage went on there and said to themselves, ‘stuff it, I’m going to wing it’?
Of course not. And do you think their rehearsal and practice makes you think they are fake and inauthentic?
If anything, it makes you appreciate their craft even more. You may find yourself captivated by the power of their performance.
Just because our pitches might not be under smoke machines and bright lights, why should we wing them?
I will outline a solid structure, that will help you to craft a pitch that can make your audience listen, reflect and act on what you have to say. I’ve also added an example of a real life pitch that I made recently at a business networking meet-up, where 25+ other business leaders also pitched their businesses in under two minutes.
My go-to structure for a powerful pitch
Step 1: Start with story
Introduce a story/scenario where you or the protagonist finds themselves in a position of conflict.
Take the time here to establish the feelings associated with this conflict.
eg. I’m seated in the back row of a conference room the size of this area. The presenter with his dishevelled tie, speaks with a monotone and talks at his PowerPoint. He has way too many points on his slide, and I forget what he’s talking about because its unreadable. I’m falling asleep. So I take my mobile phone out of my pocket, and I text my friend, DBP. Death. By. Powerpoint.
So you can see here that I’m establishing the scene (specific on a few details) and you can tell that I’m feeling bored.
Step 2: Find common ground
Establish common ground with the audience – ‘like me or protagonist, you’ve been there as well’.
eg. Hands up here if you’ve ever been in a room where you suffered through DBP?
And hands up if you would like not be one of those business presenters who kill their audiences with DBP?
Here, I got the audience to find common ground by asking for a show of hands, knowing that the majority of my audience would agree with me.
Step 3: Introduce the premise
This is where you deliver the promise of what you offer to your audience. Ultimately you want your audience to think, ‘how?’ at the end of your premise statement.
eg. Well I have good news for you. My mission on earth is to eradicate the earth of DBP, one presentation at a time. My name is Caleb, I’m from Presento Labs, and I help business leaders present with confidence in their presentations.
Step 4: Introduce the guide
This is where you explain to the audience how to navigate through the problem. This is where you provide proof that your premise works.
eg. If you have problems with getting up on stage, I can help you with public speaking confidence and stage positioning. Or if you have idea how to put your presentation together, I can help you with your presentation structure. I can also help you create digital call-to-action products like landing pages or websites that will lead your audience to do what you would like them to do.
So in this pitch, I listed the services that I offer a prospective client as there wasn’t enough time to get into the nitty gritty.
Step 5: Paint a picture of their future
If the audience applies what you tell them to do, what does the future look like? Or, what does the future look like if they don’t apply?
eg. People correlate your competence in business with your capacity to communicate.
Elevate your business to the next level by speaking and presenting with confidence.
As soon as I mentioned this line, the audience burst into applause (which I wasn’t expecting!). If I had my chance again, I would have added more pictures and scenes of the future if a customer engaged with me. Something like, ‘imagine if you didn’t feel the pressure of having to put together a presentation that bored people to death? Imagine if you had the confidence to speak from a platform in front of your business peers?’
Step 6: What can they do?
What can the audience do as a result of listening to what you have to say?
To end your pitch on a high note, I would repeat the premise and personalise it.
eg. I’m Caleb Tan, from Presento Labs, and I look forward to helping you present with confidence in your next presentation.
Admittedly I thought a distinct call to action would have been nice to add in here. Before my premise line, I would have added, ‘If you would like to find out more about what I do, please have a chat to me after these talks or head to my website www.presentolabs.com.au’.
I don’t think my pitch was perfect, however it was voted to be one of more popular ones amongst my fellow peers that evening. I ended up with a lot of contacts at the end of that night and a nice bottle of wine.
A few extra do’s and dont’s on delivering a powerful pitch:
- Do time your pitch! We had two minutes max to pitch – I believe I didn’t get up to 1:30!
- Don’t start your pitch with Hi, my name is _____ as it’s quite predictable – start with a story that intrigues your audience, much like a movie does.
- Don’t end your pitch with ‘thank you’. It’s the default last words most presenters use – if anything the audience should be thanking you! I pointed and nodded to the MC to notify to the audience and to him I was finished.
- Don’t admit that you’re nervous when you’re up on the platform. I felt the butterflies in my stomach before getting up on stage, but no-one needed to know about it. Plus it’s wasted time.
Now take some action
Now you have no excuse to shy away from pitching your business at your next business meet-up. Take some time right now to list those steps and apply it to your own business pitch – you can download the PDF template now. Also, please comment on your thoughts on delivering a powerful pitch, I’d love to hear from you.
Photo credit: BMVI.de via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND
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The next Speakup Mastermind runs on March 27, April 3 at the State Library of WA.