As a former business communications professor, I used to watch hundreds of students present each year. While my feedback varied, I repeatedly wrote one particular word on grade slip after slip.
What was it? Smile.
A positive demeanor makes a huge difference in whether you connect with your audience. But when you’re nervous, your smile is often first to go. And the audience picks up on it.
Our job at Prowess is to make your life easier when it comes to presentations. We have your back so you can relax and show those pearly whites. Our approach is simple: We start by looking at the big picture. After we gather that information, we look more closely and ask: “So what?”
The Big Picture
We like to ask a lot of questions in our kick-off calls so we get the full scope of your needs. The details matter, starting with the basics.
- Will your slides be seen on a projector screen with a live presenter?
- If not, how, when, and where will you use them? (For example, will this be a remote meeting on laptops?)
- Will you distribute a handout or any other correlating materials to the audience?
Although we appreciate demographics, we’re not satisfied with just knowing who your audience is. We want to get to know your audience well and the context of your interaction with them.
- Why is the audience at the presentation? For accreditation, training, a conference?
- Where will you present and to how many people? We’ll tailor your presentation accordingly, whether it’s to a smaller, intimate audience or to a packed auditorium.
And finally, we want to know about the presenter.
- Will the same person always present the slides?
- How experienced and knowledgeable is the speaker?
Looking at the big picture from all angles helps us ensure the presentation hits its mark.
One of my early writing mentors used to plaster my first drafts with this question: “So what?” She wasn’t satisfied until every paragraph answered that question. I learned to use restraint and to recognize and cut unnecessary content. You know, the peripheral info that you get attached to when you write, but doesn’t really apply.
At Prowess, we also ask “so what?” a lot. This helps us hone in on the purpose and call to action of each presentation. Is the purpose to train, motivate, raise awareness, seek funding, change opinions, or persuade? Then we dig deeper. For example, if you are trying to persuade, how overt do you want to be?
We also apply the “so what” method to editing our content. We cut the clutter and use concise wording to get at the heart of the subject.
After we’ve trimmed the fat, the content can be designed into simple slides with more visuals than text, which is another strategy of ours. But we won’t get into that now, since we’re practicing restraint, right? But click here to read related thoughts on slide simplicity.
In sum, we create slides that help you feel as confident as possible when you present. We take a step back and observe the big picture while asking a ton of questions. As a result, you can take a deep breath, click on that first slide, and say cheese.