All presentations need a structure, but the structure that will work the best depends on the goal you have in mind. Are you informing? Persuading? Some of both? The suggested structure for informative presentations is usually more “linear,” while the suggested structure for persuasive presentations can be more holistic and varied.
Whether you are informing or persuading, something that is important is what I call “Message Integrity.” Message Integrity means your message is consistent. The information flows logically and is accessible to your audience. Message Integrity increases understanding and makes it more likely your audience will remember what you say.
Below, I share an analogy that will help you understand the concept of Message Integ
Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is a persuasive communication structure that was developed by Alan Monroe, an American psychologist, author, and pioneer in the discipline of communication, in the 1930s.
It consists of 5 steps, which closely resemble the structure of what we now call a Pitch.
The steps are:
1. The Attention Step: Also known as “the hook”, this is the equivalent to the introduction of a pitch. You can open with a rhetorical question, a quote from someone famous or respected, a story (preferably true), or a startling statistic. The hook gives your audience a reason to listen to the rest of what you have to say.
2. The Need Step: In this step, you clearly show the problem you are speaking about
In my last post about pitching (blog/types-of-pitches-elevator-business-and-investor), I detailed the elements of the three main types of pitches, Elevator, Business, and Investor. That post focused on the differences between these pitches. This post explains what is shared between them, what I refer to as The Heart of the Pitch.
The heart of your pitch is composed of two parts. The first part is the problem you solve. The second part is the solution you offer. One of the mistakes I often notice when I listen to pitches is that people go too quickly to the solution. Sometimes, they go there immediately. I get why people do that. It’s normal and natural to want
As I talked about in a previous post, Planning Your Presentation: Goal Setting and Audience a presentation is always created for a specific audience. That means who you are speaking to has everything to do with what you put in your presentation.
There are four key questions to ask yourself about the audience as you prepare your content:
As stated in our previous post What is Culture and How Does It Impact Presenting? culture impacts everything we do, and giving a presentation is no exception. People from different cultures have varying expectations and preferences for both HOW a presentation is given and WHAT is presented.
In this post, I’m going to discuss a second cultural preference that impacts the WHAT. It has to do with the degree to which members of culture need or like to be sold a product or service (think “hard sell”) or not. This cultural difference is referred to as Product Focus vs. Market Focus.
Let’s start with Product Focus. Some cultures believe that if a product is of sufficient qua
As stated in our previous post, What is culture and how does it impact presenting? culture impacts everything we do, and giving a presentation is no exception. People from different cultures have varying expectations and preferences for both HOW a presentation is given and WHAT is presented.
In this post, I’m going to discuss a cultural preference that impacts the WHAT. It has to do with whether the speaker should focus on the problem to be solved or the solution to the problem.
Some cultures require a thorough analysis of the problem before a solution is mentioned. I’ll call these Analytic cultures.In Analytic cultures, audience members want to:
In the universe of pitching, there are several different types of pitches. In this post, I’m going to define the primary three types: Elevator, Business, and Investor.
The infamous “Elevator Pitch” is purported to be what you can tell someone about yourself and what you do in the length of an elevator ride. Technically, the length of an Elevator Pitch depends on the height of the building, but we generally consider these Pitches to be anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds in length.
Features of an Elevator Pitch
The difference between a Business Pitc
To determine what you are going to say in your presentation's main body, it’s a good idea to revisit your goals for the presentation. Are you informing or persuading? What is it that you want to accomplish? What do you want the audience to remember, and what do you want them to do when they leave the room?
To start this process, let’s revisit the Informing/Persuading Continuum. I discussed this in a previous white paper.
For every presentation you create, you want to determine where you are on the continuum between pure informing and pure persuading. We are almost always somewhere in the middle. Th
In the first post on this topic, Low-Context communication was defined as:
High-Context Communication was defined as:
The High- Low-Context Continuum
Now let’s have a look at where the cultures fall on the High- Low-Context Continuum. I have chosen to approximate the continuum from Erin Meyer’s book The Culture Map (1). You can access an infographic if the continuum here...
Finding Your Position on the Continuum
This blog post is the first in a series on creating the Content of your presentation. Content includes the Introduction, the Main Body, and the Conclusion. I'll cover the Introduction last because it is easier to create the Introduction once the Main Body of the presentation is defined. As there isn't much to say about the Conclusion, most of the posts will relate to the Main Body. There are many ways to organize the Main Body of your presentation, and as with everything related to presenting, the structure you choose will depend on your goals and your audience.
In this post, I would like to highlight a distinction that I have found useful as you think about what to present. It’s particularly helpful for people in technical fields, like engineering, IT, or any of the scienc
“High/Low Context Communication” is the Dimension of Culture that describes how communication styles differ across cultures. The terms were introduced by American Anthropologist Edward T. Hall in his 1976 book Beyond Culture. Hall coined these terms after his experience of accompanying a group of American diplomats to Japan in the 1950s as an observer.
Defining the Terms
Low-Context Communication refers to a communication style in which most of the information that is transmitted is contained in the explicit code, i.e. words. For a message to be accessible to another person or people, it must be verbalized. In the Low-Context communication style, there is minimal dependence on non-verbal or symbolic communication when communica
Culture impacts everything we do, from thinking to speaking to learning to driving. It determines the language we speak, the food we eat, the materials we use to construct our homes, to the clothing we wear. Culture has been described as the water we swim in, and until we have an experience that takes us out of that aquarium, we literally don’t know that our way of living or thinking or speaking is different from anyone else’s.
How are cultures formed? A culture is formed by a particular group of people living in a particular place at a particular point in time. Some of the key drivers of the formation of culture are demography (who is there), geography (environment, climate, and resources), and history (what happened to that group of people at that time).
What is a Pitch?
When you think of the word “Pitch" what comes to mind? I ask this of groups when I teach pitching. I get words like "short," "to the point," "introduction," "raising money." I also get "salesy," "sleazy," and "pushy." A colleague recently told me that he completely avoids the word "pitch" because it "...sounds like it's shrink-wrapped." He called it an "unassessed presentation."
I think these negative takes on the word “Pitch" come from shows like Shark Tank. The term "Pitch" recalls the much-maligned Used Car Salesman of old. A pitch is simply a form of communication. It is indeed a highly persuasive form of communication that is synonymous with selling. But is that a bad thing?
You might think that pitching is so
In order to compare how things are done in different Cultures, we need vocabulary, a way of talking about something that is quite intangible. Throughout the years, various scholars have developed models that are used to describe Cultural Differences.
They all utilize horizontal scales with terms that describe a particular value system at each end. These scales are called Dimensions of Culture. An example of one Dimension is Task vs. Relationship.
The day of your presentation has finally arrived. Now to think about some logistics: what do you need to have with you? This will be somewhat influenced by what you have learned about the venue, but there are some things you should have with you as a matter of habit. I have what I call my “Presentation Toolkit” and pack it with me, no matter if I am driving or flying to the presentation venue.
The first category we will call “Equipment”. Some of the things you want to bring are:
Do you think that pitching is something that only applies to entrepreneurs on Shark Tank? Not at all! In truth, we all pitch. Business owners and consultants pitch the product or service they offer, managers pitch ideas and projects to the C-Suite, non-profit leaders pitch their cause. We pitch to get new clients, find new partners and access resources.
If you need to up your pitching game, join me for the 5-Day Perfect Pitch Challenge where you will:
✅ Distinguish essential pitch content
✅ Identify and create your “keyword list”
✅ Structure your message using a “reverse engineering” technique
✅ Determine the right story to tell and make it engaging
✅ Employ techniques that will compel your audi
At long last, it is time to prepare your content. All the information you have gathered will make the process of sitting down to prepare your presentation far easier than if you tried to prepare your content without it.
# 1: Do Your Research
Even if you are a super expert in your topic, you may need to do some research in order to prepare your presentation. You may need to check some facts, find some relevant quotes, create some new charts or graphs, or find the right images to get your message across. Doing research may involve requesting information from other people. This could be particularly true if you are presenting as part of a team.
The important thing is to leave yourself enough time to do a thorough job of finding what yo
If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you will know that we have done quite a bit of work to get to the point of being ready to prepare our content. You’ve established your goal, identified your audience, and found out as much as you could about the venue and the inner workings of the event at which you’ll be speaking. There is one more question you need to answer before you are ready to start creating your content. That is the question of time. How much time have you been given to speak? The amount of time you have to speak impacts how much you can say and how deep you can go into your topic. You also need to know if there will be a Q&A session and how much time is allocated for that.
If the organizers leave the amount of time you can speak up to you (and
Part one of “The Setting” blog posts focuses on what you need to know about the space in which you are presenting. Now, let’s turn to the context of the presentation.
Type of Event
Knowing the context of a presentation allows you to prepare effectively. What type of event are you speaking for? There are many possibilities. You could be speaking at a professional conference, making a presentation to colleagues at an internal meeting, speaking to a group of clients at a client site, or guest lecturing in an academic setting.
Speaking at a conference is generally the most complex situation, so we will concentrate our attention there. F
Knowing as much as you can about the physical space you will be presenting in is great information to have as you prepare your presentation. It may not always be possible to visit the venue in person before you present but going there virtually or asking organizers about the space in which you will present is always time well invested.
If you can’t physically visit the space in advance, you should plan to arrive early the day you present to get comfortable in the space before you go on. Some of the things of interest to you include how much control you have over the environment, and what you will need in order to present successfully in the space. Remember, it’s your reputation we are talking about here. You want to control as many factors as you can that could impact
In my latest whitepaper, I talked about the importance of considering your audience and their perspective(s) on your topic as you plan your presentation. In that article, we talked about all the things you need to discover about your audience. Well, not exactly “all” of the things. I left one thing off that list, and that is the topic of this blog post… what is the attitude of your audience?
What do I mean by attitude of the audience? By this I mean, how are they feeling? What is their mood? What is their mindset as they sit and listen to you? Have they come with a bias or a point of view about you or your topic?
There are man
I love speaking to groups. I especially love doing this in person. I get energy from the room, and I love the interaction with a live audience. Many of you may feel the same way, but as the novel coronavirus continues its relentless path around the world, our ways of working and interacting are having to undergo a change. We are being forced to eliminate face-to-face interaction in order to keep people safe and slow the spread of the virus.
So, how can we still get our messages out to the world? We can move our presentations to the web. We can create virtual presentations in the form of short videos, webinars, and as Seth Godin likes to say, “we can start conversations.”
Presenting virtually is different than presenting in-person on several levels. One differen
There are many reasons that we make presentations. Sometimes, we are sharing information; sometimes, we are persuading people to take an action. Oftentimes, we are doing both. We might even be inspiring others to reach for the stars! No matter the reason, being able to stand in front of a room and convey a compelling and memorable message is an invaluable skill.
I come to the teaching and coaching of presentation skills with several strong beliefs.
Welcome! I have been contemplating writing a blog for some time, and now, I’m finally doing it! What changed, you ask? It is largely due to having hired a marketing guru, who is helping me figure out how to do it. But even before I hired her, I knew that I had something I wanted to share.
I have been teaching and coaching presentation skills for more than 20 years, mostly in Europe. I am passionate about helping people become the best presenters they can be. I find it immensely gratifying to take someone from where they are as a presenter - may be fearful, maybe disorganized, maybe unconfident - and teaching them the skills they need to shine at the front of the room. I find this work transformative. There is no more important life skill than being able to get your me