Monthly Archives: November 2015

Harness the “power of three” to power up your next presentation

As a business person, chances are you are going to have to do a presentation sooner or later. If the thought of composing something from scratch strikes you with fear, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, which will make every presentation you make much simpler to master.

woman doing a presentation

Being asked to do a presentation need not strike panic – a structure will get you started

It’s called “the power of three”, and in this case, the word “power” is very apt. When you are making a presentation – whether it’s a pitch to a potential new client, or updating your colleagues on the latest developments in your department – the ‘power of three’ provides an almost magical structure to ensure you deliver just the right amount of information. It’s the reason there’s “three wise men”, “three musketeers” as well as “three little pigs”!

Think of it as a sandwich. Your content – the “meat” of your presentation – will be up to you. But by putting “the power of three” to work for you, you will have a very robust structure that is simple to follow, and helps package your information into a format your audience can readily take in.

To get started, first identify the main points you want to convey in your presentation. This will be the “bacon, lettuce and tomato” in your sandwich. You may have five or ten, but there may be some overlap. Group them into themes. Then eliminate the weakest ones, and whittle it down to your three strongest or most important points. State your first point or theme, and support it with an example or a story. Then move on to the next one. Before you know it, you will have a well-structured presentation, based around three powerful points.

For best results, wrap your three points between an introduction and a conclusion. This is the “bread” that holds your filling together. Opening with an introduction will put your audience at ease. Tell them what they can expect to take away from your talk. This will motivate them to listen, and help them relax and know they are in good hands. Tell them you have three main points you will make. Now primed for what to expect, they can listen to your presentation’s main points, and follow each one. Conclude by summarising your three points at the end.

Armed with the “power of three” you now have a format you can rely upon again and again, for presentations of any length. Having a “go-to” structure to apply to your content will help ease the pain of making presentations. Your audience will find them easier to follow, and you may even find that you start to enjoy doing them!

Making effective presentations is crucial to becoming an effective leader, but often, we don’t get much opportunity to develop this skill. One of the best places to become more comfortable making presentations is Toastmasters. There are clubs all over the world, including one in Inverness which meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesday each month. Visit www.toastmastersinverness.com and come along to a meeting. You’ll soon be more at ease doing presentations at work. You may even find you have a talent for it!

Laura Bruce is an award-winning speaker and the founder of Bruce Public Relations, based in Inverness, where she works with forward-thinking organisations to raise their profile. She is the two-times Scotland champion of impromptu public speaking (2015, 2014) and recently placed second in Scotland in the 2015 Toastmasters International Speech Contest. If you would like Laura’s help to improve your next presentation, contact her here.

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Goldfish attention span? No problem! Just get your copy right

According to research published recently in The Telegraph newspaper, human attention span has dropped to only 8 seconds today, from 12 seconds in 2000. Apparently, we have the “smartphone” to blame for our appallingly-short attention span. It seems the humble goldfish — long the butt of jokes about its short attention span, now  — at nine seconds — has us beaten.

Apparently, goldfish now have longer attention spans than humans.

Apparently, goldfish now have longer attention spans than humans.

What does this mean for you? Well, one of the ways this will impact is on your website. You may have a whizz-bang design, but if your copy fails to grab your visitors’ attention — and damn quickly, I might add! —  then they will click off your site. . . and likely onto your competitor’s.

Writing good copy is an art. And like art, it’s not something everyone can do.

Here are my three tips to capturing — and captivating! — visitors who land on your site:

  1. Tell people what you do. Enigmatic business names are the flavour du jour, but they don’t do a lot to help people find you. If you have had the chutzpah to create some unrecognisable name for your company, at least have the decency to follow that name with something to identify the product or service you provide. And don’t make people hunt for it.
  2. Be friendly — avoid jargon. Nothing puts me off than a website full of technical terminology that has no business on a website. If you want customers to come calling, reserve the jargon for your techie meet-ups, and use clear language in the  places your [potential] customers visit.
  3. Know when you are out of your depth. If writing a few clear sentences is not something you are comfortable with, pay someone to do it for you. I mean, you don’t wire your own house, do you? There are reasons to get in a professional, and writing your website is a good example. If you need help, contact a PR firm. This is a place where writing skills tend to be in abundance. You’ll pay a bit, but you’ll likely get a far better result than your DIY approach.

If good copy is something your site is crying out for, or if you simply feel you site’s content is a bit dated, contact Laura at Bruce Public Relations in Inverness. We’ll give you a bit of whizz-bang, without breaking the bank.