CREATE A MEMORABLE KEY MESSAGE FOR YOUR PRESENTATION
Why do we give presentations?
(a) to communicate information
(b) to change people's minds or behavior
(c) because we have to
Although (c) may too often be true, we give presentations primarily to accomplish (a) and (b). One of the easiest ways to ensure we're being effective is to craft a key message for our presentation.
A key message is, quite simply, what you want your audience to remember or to do as a result of your presentation. It isn't all the details or the specifics; rather it is the over-arching core concept you want them to take away. Imagine a reporter is standing outside your presentation as the audience members file out and the reporter asks them, "What was that presentation about?" What would you want them to say?
For example, let's say I was giving a presentation on PowerPoint best practices. I might include things like using headlines on slides; the black slide technique; how bullet points distract the audience; how a well-chosen image can communicate so much more than text; using slide real estate strategically.
My key message, however, is not PowerPoint best practices. It is: To use PowerPoint effectively, less is more. Notwithstanding all the techniques and how tos I present, what I want my audience to remember is that the less they put on the PPT slides, the more effective and memorable their message will be.
Craft your key message with these things in mind:
Keep it simple. You should be able to communicate it in one sentence.
Keep it specific and easily understood.
Make sure everything in your presentation relates to and supports the key message. In my example above, all the content presented logically falls under the umbrella of "less is more."
Test it out. When practicing your presentation [you are doing this, right??] ask your colleague or friend, "What was my key message?" Depending on the response, adjust as necessary.
When I cover this concept in my presentation skills training classes, participants will frequently ask, "Should I share my key message with my audience?" Absolutely! Why would you want to keep it a secret?
If your presentation is tightly designed to support your key message, your audience will get it and remember it. But there's no reason you can't help them along by telling them, towards the beginning and again towards the end, "The key thing I want you to take away from this presentation is..."
flickr/Keys C.C. 2.0
© And Now Presenting, Inc. 2016