Create a Problem and Then Solve It
How well your presentation goes the next time you step up to a podium depends on several factors. But one factor you can control completely is your script. The way you organize your content and how you present the material to that crowd can either totally captivate them and drive them step by step to the conclusion or it can bore them to sleep. Its all in how you construct your presentation and how you present what you want them to know throughout the talk.
The difference between a great talk and a boring one is simple. A great talk is compelling. A great talk gets to the heart of a common experience. It addresses something we all go through and deals with a need we all experience. In short, a great talk solves a problem. So to create a presentation that reaches out and grabs your audience and holds them for the entire time of your presentation, you have to create a problem for them. And then you have to solve it.
The point when you create the problem is in your opening comments. Now don’t shy away from being a bit melodramatic in your opening. Remember the goal of the opening is to grab the audience’s group attention and rivet it on your talk. So present the problem statement in a personal way, how it is meaningful on a personal level to the audience and to you. About 20% of the time to the creation of the problem statement. By the time you have created that big monster in the room, they will be ready for you to guide them toward the solution.
With the audience “in the palm of your hand”, you can move directly into the description of the perfect solution. The solution phase of your talk can be broken into two parts. First, describe what the perfect solution would look like. You would not even directly bring up your solution just yet. Base your description of the perfect solution on the problem statement so you have an aspect of the solution that fits every possible problem created at the first part of your talk.
The next phase is the next to the last and comes about 50% into your time. Now you have the audience in a perfect place to hear your solution. Use about 30-40% of your total time on the proposed solution, fitting it perfectly to your discussion of the problem and the outline of what a perfect solution looks like. By this time the audience is eager to know the solution. All you are doing now is closing the deal.
If we followed a standard “term paper” approach to a program, the final phase would be to sum up, and go over what you just talked about. But we are not going to follow that pattern because this is the time for the “pay off”. In your closing statements, you finally disclose the action to be taken. By giving your audience what they can do to take the first step in putting your solution into motion, you are cashing in on all that energy you created in the first 80% of your speech.
Now close the deal by giving them concrete and “right now” things they can do to recognize the problem and start the wheels turning on making the solution a reality. If its possible make the first step of implementing that solution happen right there in the room with you. That might be signing up for a newsletter, giving you an email address or going to another room for further counseling and discussion. You know what it is. But by using that energy, you convert passive listeners into active participants. And you did that with a very well designed and a well executive presentation plan.