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.
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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