Paul Glen is a self-admitted “geek,” who recognizes that there are communication barriers between his computer-savvy community and the people who need his service and solutions. His entertaining and informative white paper, “A Geek’s Guide to Presenting to Business People” is loaded with presentation tips on how to bridge that barrier.
Glen makes this interesting observation about the way business people process information:
“You might not realize that for many business people, details get in the way of their understanding…Too many details are not helpful and can interfere with their ability to grasp the big picture…”
So, keeping that in mind, what is the best way to craft a presentation (i.e., write it up) for a business audience?
Glenn has five suggestions that I whole-heartedly support:
1. Find out how they consume information. Every business audience has their own language and “habits of thought that you need to respect.” Glen suggests getting in touch with someone who represents the audience and ask for hints and examples of past presentations the group enjoyed. You might be surprised at what some groups value as “effective communication.”
2. Do not organize the presentation around a detailed “reference guide.” Highly structured material with technical details, steps, bullets, and semicolons do not work well in promoting audience understanding. Go for the easy-to-understand approach.
3. Use slides as headlines, not as “bullet reminders” of what you want to talk about. Use your PowerPoint presentation as visual cues and headlines focusing the audience’s attention on you and what you’re talking about. Glen rarely uses more than 10 words on a slide.
4. Use verbs and avoid nouns. Writing presentation material with noun headings “is not only boring, but also conveys a subtle pomposity, as if you are cataloging the way things are.” Glen recommends using verb phrases or questions. They tell people what is going on and why they should care.
5. Forget about giving your audience handouts of your slides. Although a copy of your presentation slides might seem like just the place for your audience to make notes, people read ahead. Rather than focusing on your presentation, they become engaged in a variety of things that revolve around paying more attention to your handouts and not to your carefully crafted presentation.
- How Managers Effectively Use PowerPoint Presentations (professionallyspeakingblog.com)