If There’s One Thing I Want You To Take Away From This, It’s This…

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this blog post, it’s that there’s one very simple way to frame a powerful presentation. You just tell the audience at face value what they should care to remember, and then at the end of the presentation you remind them of what they just learned and why it’s valuable to them.

When I listen to some of the most articulate TED Talks my immediate wow reaction is to how captivating the presenter’s storytelling is. Yet at no point do I lose view of the simplicity of the story arc or the intended narrative. No matter how deep the speaker delves, I don’t get lost in the details and information.

My biggest fear as a presenter has always been failing to be evocative and failing to rally the audience to care about something that I care to speak about. I often struggle because I sacrifice essential information that I think might bore the audience. As an audience member I fear the loss of 15 good minutes I spent listening to a poor presentation, and the shame that someone—someone who clearly is passionate about something enough to share it with a public—has failed to convince me that I should share a mutual interest with them.

I don’t have a particularly good memory for numbers. Sometimes I can listen to an utterance of statistics and it will have a lasting impact of about 5 minutes. But you will never catch me quoting statistics at a dinner table. My take away is always a concept. The best presenters tell you before anything else exactly what the rest of their presentation will be about: The one concept, the one they want you to remember at the dinner table in 5 months—notably longer than 5 minutes. Then the speaker tells you a bunch of information. And then they frame it in the conclusion. They remind you of the original focus statement, and in doing so, help you internalize and contextualize everything you just learned from them.

If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this blog post, it’s that we, as presenters, have to remind ourselves that our audience members aren’t the ones that are intimate with the material we are presenting. We are. And if we want other people to latch onto the stories we are telling we have to brief them and debrief them, all in the short span of a presentation 10-15 minute presentation.