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Tips to present better

If you want to improve your ability to create powerful business presentations you have to master three aspects: preparation, design and delivery. In these articles I'll show you how.

This blog post is the last one of a brief series where we looked at the three fundamental principles of communication introduced by Carmine Gallo in his book Talk Like TED. We started with emotions, then novelty and in this article we’re going to discuss memorability. 

How can you present your ideas in a way that will be remembered? Here are three elements to consider. 

Not more than 18 minutes

According to Carmine Gallo, the ideal duration of a presentation is 18 to 20 minutes. If this is not possible for you for any reason, at least create breaks every ten minutes. Change the pace with videos, stories, examples—anything that can be useful to hold people’s attention. If you think you can't convey your message in twenty minutes and “you can't explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” That's Einstein, not me.

Here’s a short note from Chris Anderson—Head of TED—who specifically chose the eighteen-minute time limit for the TED Talks:

“It [18 minutes] is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online. It’s the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.”   

Multi-sensory experience 

As Dr. Medina explained in Brain Rules, powerful presentations should be multi-sensory. It’s often useful to include in a presentation elements that touch more than one of our five senses—taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound. If you do that it’s impossible for an audience to get bored. Instead of showing slides full of text, you can create visual slides by combining images and (little) text—you’re touching sight. If you show a video you also stimulate sound. If you make a product demo you may also involve touch. The best presenters make presentations that are mainly based on one of our five senses but also include elements that touch some others. 

Like Zlatan 

Although it’s useful to read and study and learn from top presenters and other experts, in the end you should aim to become the best version of yourself. Former football manager Fabio Capello used to show Van Basten's videos to Zlatan Ibrahimović: he wanted to teach Zlatan how to kick as at the beginning of his career it wasn’t his strongest skill. But Capello's objective was not to turn Ibra into a Van Basten but to get the very best out of him. 

You should do the same: learn from the best presenters and then build up your own style. Become the best possible version of yourself. 

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.