This is a book super-packed with ideas when it comes to public speaking and presentation skills (see my review of the book here), and I could have shared numerous ideas, but my goal is to focus on just one. I did cheat though as I collapsed three ideas into one, which I have titled as: How to improve your presentations with three actions. The three actions ate briefly discussed below.
- Action one – Tell a story: stories have the power to reach people’s heart and minds so include them in your presentations. Brain scans show that stories stimulate and engage the human brain helping the speaker to connect to the listener. Also stories add ideas and emotions into our brains. Someone said stories are just data for our souls. So find a good and relevant story to include in your presentation. Better still open your presentation with a story.
- Action two – Shock your audience: Bill Gates let loose mosquitoes during a presentation on malaria, Dr Elliot Keane used a blowtorch to illustrate pain , while Dr. Jill brought a real brain on stage. They all had one impact, they shocked the audience by evoking strong emotions and that no doubt caught their attention. You don’t need to have a jar of mosquitoes, blowtorch or real brain to create an element of shock or surprise. You can use a story, picture, video, prop, or even the way you dress. Just make sure whatever you do is relevant to your presentation.
- Action three – make it shorter please! TED presentations cannot exceed 18 minutes and considering the diverse range of topics discussed and their complexity at each conference, you wonder how the speakers are ever able to convey anything tangible in 18 minutes or less. The truth is when you have less time to speak, the constraint will make you more creative and force you to cram in less content. For the content you get rid of your, ‘should-haves’ and ‘could-haves’ and focus on your ‘must-haves’. Research also backs up the efficacy of shorter presentations. The brain cannot deal with information overload, shorter is better. One practical way to make your content shorter is to use the ‘rule of threes’. You can apply it by first creating a twitter-freindly headline for your presentation, identify three key messages to support the headline, and finally reinforce each message with stories, statistics and examples.