The fourth characteristic found in my research on effective presentation techniques is having a defined objective, goal or aim for the presentation. It’s all about being crystal clear about what is you want to achieve; being able to answer the question ‘what’s the end point of this presentation?’
The principle of objective setting links back to the journey analogy explored in my blog on structure; the objective being the destination of the presentation. At the risk of over using the analogy, the significance of the presentation objective is that there is no point beginning a journey if you don’t have a clear idea of what the destination is and why you want to go there!
Effective Presentation Techniques: A Clever Question
On a more pragmatic note, identifying objectives enables effective planning of the presentation structure. One of my interviewees made the very insightful comment ‘decide what you want people to do, see, feel and talk about when you finish; define that and you have the start point’.
So, what do you want people to do, see, feel and talk about at the end of your next presentation? Answer this question and then you have an objective that you can use to plan the presentation; ensuring that every part of the presentation moves you towards your destination.
What are the typical objectives of a business presentation?
At this point a summary of the typical objectives of a business presentation may be useful?
‘Informing’, often expressed as ‘educate’, is commonly identified as a possible presentation objective. Examples of this type of presentation would be informing staff about a new product launch, the appointment of a new senior staff member or a planned relocation. In essence these presentations are about the transfer of information. Simple!
Inspiration and Motivation
‘Inspiration and motivation’ is regularly stated as a presentation objective in the books and training courses I used in my research. In practice this might be related to; motivating staff to redouble their efforts in finding new business, inspiring some creative problem solving or simply motivating the staff to adopt some new technology. Linked to motivation is the presentation aimed at bringing about some form of change.
To ‘sell’ is the third common objective of a business presentation. As I’m sure you know, many business presentations are made to prospective clients or to prospective investors; in both cases the presenter is selling his product, service or idea.
As may be apparent, these objective are not mutually exclusive. For example, to sell a service to a prospective client the presenter needs to inform and educate the client (about why the service on offer would meet their needs and how). The presenter then needs to motivate the client to adopt the presenter’s service; this will often include an element of change so the presenter needs to inspire the prospect to make that change (it is very common to present to a prospect who is considering changing their supplier). In a similar vein, to motivate staff to make any change the presenter needs firstly to educate them about why the change is needed and secondly to persuade them that the proposed course of action is the right one.
Effective Presentations Summary
Whatever you are trying to do; inform, motivate or sell, if you can articulate the answer to ‘what do I want them to do, see, feel or talk about?’ you’ll have an objective that will give real focus and drive to your presentation.
So, as ever, I have a few questions for you: Are you crystal clear about the objectives for your next presentation? Is it to inform, inspire and motivate or to sell? Or something else? Can you articulate your objective? And (looping back to another blog in this series) how does your objective meet the needs of your audience?