Connect the Dots in Your Presentation

Posted by Kristin Arnold on September 1, 2011

In a motion picture, every second costs thousands of dollars to produce – so every second counts.  Every second contributes to the overall story.  Nary a second is wasted.  So when I watch a movie, I am always looking at the “tells” that foreshadow what is to come.  It’s like connecting the dots to see if I can figure out what is going to happen.

Although you presentation doesn’t take millions of dollars to produce, it may take a million seconds of your time!  Each element should contribute to the overall message.  The audience should be able to connect the dots so at the end, they know what you want them to do, think, or feel about your topic.

Simple enough, but it is easy to throw in gratuitous elements that will please your audience – or make you happy.  A story you have told before, a throw away line that always gets a laugh, or shameless pandering to the audience.

Today’s audiences are much more discerning and will see right through it.  They have seen enough movies, presentations, and speeches to know the difference.

This week, I was listening to a speaker who started out with a strong story:  Hurricane Irene that was barreling up the eastern seaboard of the United States.  Irene’s arrival into Prince Edward Island (PEI) was imminent, and the speaker was commenting on how we need to be prepared.  All good grist for a great speech.

When he was done with the story, he proceeded into the body of his speech – which had NOTHING to do with hurricanes, preparedness or stocking up on water.  Nada.  There wasn’t a dot to connect.  And he never came back to the story at the end.  (otherwise known as a “bookend” – a great way to close your presentation and show the relevance of your opening story).

What do you do to make sure the audience can connect the dots?

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