In that constant journey of becoming a better speaker, I listen to as many presentations as possible at events I attend; I browse the web for captivating speeches; I listen to CDs of great speeches, and I read a lot (is that a surprise?) on the best books available on the topic.
One such book is slide:ology by Nancy Duarte. I've mentioned her work before, but it has been such an important work and influence that I wanted to post her Five Theses of the Power of Presentation for your consideration - and application.
- Treat Your Audience as King - They didn't come to your presentation to see you. They came to find out what you can do for them. Success means giving them a reason for taking their time, providing content that resonates, and ensuring it's clear what they are to do
- Spread Ideas and Move People - Creating great ideas is what we were born to do; getting people to feel like they have a stake in what we believe is the hard part. Communicate your ideas with strong visual grammar to engage all their senses and they will adopt the ideas as their own
- Help Them See What You're Saying - Epiphanies and profoundly moving experiences come from moments of clarity. Think like a designer and guide your audience through ideas in a way that helps, not hinders, their comprehension. Appeal not only to their verbal senses, but to their visual senses as well.
- Practice Design, Not Decoration - Orchestrating the aesthetic experience through well-known but oft-neglected design practices often transforms audiences into evangelists. Don't just make pretty talking points. Instead, display information in a way that makes complex information clear.
- Cultivate Healthy Relationships - A meaningful relationship between you, your slides, and your audience will connect people with content. Display information in the best way possible for comprehension rather than focusing on what you need as a visual crutch. Content carriers connect with people.
As I continue preparing for 2009 presentations, I'm going back to a blank page and starting with this question:
What action do I want to move my audience to undertake?