In previous articles we've established that content is crucial, we've said that we need to combine it with good design, but we haven't yet added an important element: communication. Ladies and gentlemen, you can have the greatest idea in the world and the slides of the century but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. And it’s negligent, because you deny the world of something of great value.
The goods news is, you don’t have to be a professional speaker in order to deliver a great presentation. If you’ve done a good job in the preparation stage, if you know your material, if you’ve structured your messages in a way that makes it easier for your audience to follow you and remember what you say, if you have beautifully designed slides that amplify your message, you’re already a step ahead. Good preparation is a prerequisite for effective communication.
When you deliver a presentation, you have to mix stories and information: the former to satisfy the emotional part of our brain and the latter to satisfy the logical part. To do this, you have to move away from the idea that a presentation is just about sharing information and embrace the idea that it is about sharing an experience.
How do you do that? A good starting point is to consider three fundamental principles of communication that I’ve learned from Carmine Gallo's Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds—a great public speaking book.
After analysing hundreds of TED Talks, interviewing the world’s best speakers and the most important researchers in communication, psychology and neuroscience, Gallo collected nine tips for better public speaking, wrapped in three fundamental ideas:
- Emotional - getting to the heart
- Novel - teaching something new
- Memorable - communicating in a way that will be remembered
In this blog post I’m going to discuss emotions.
You’ll never be able to inspire anyone if you are not inspired by your topic. Being passionate about the story you tell is fundamental because passion is contagious. If you are passionate about something and you share it with an audience, you’ll have much better chances of getting your message across.
Mastering the art of storytelling
Communicating through stories is one of the best ways to make a presentation engaging. Stories stimulate the brain and help to establish a connection with the audience. We all should tell more stories during presentations, including business and technical presentations. You can tell the story about why you do what you do, or the story about why you launched your business, the story about how your product helped a customer increase sales, the story about your personal connection with your topic. If you go a bit deeper, there's always a story to tell. As Carmine Gallo says, “you’ll never be able to reach people’s heads before touching their heart—and the single best way to touch people’s hearts is to tell stories.”
Start a conversation, not a monologue. When you deliver a presentation, speak as if you're having dinner with your friends. To achieve that level of intimacy with your audience you need to prepare yourself, rehearse and rehearse again. Did you know that it takes 250 hours for Apple to prepare a twenty-minute presentation? In order to become a good speaker you have to work hard before the event and not rely on your improvisation skills. Improv is for comedians. However, don’t confuse preparation with memorisation. You always have to be flexible and adapt your talks to the specific situation, but a solid preparation is essential to be able to establish a strong connection with your audience.
Continue reading: the second fundamental principle of communication—Novelty.
If you'd like to learn more about how to make better presentations, download my report Top 7 Mistakes People Make When Creating Business Presentations.