Guide to Persuasive Presentations

Topics: Harvard Business School, Audience, Harvard Business School Publishing Pages: 56 (17086 words) Published: February 6, 2013


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Preparing an important presentation? Whether your audience is a small group of colleagues or a larger gathering of clients, this guide will give you the practical advice you need to master public speaking. You’ll learn how to: ■■■■■■ ■■■■■■



Shape your information to specifically address your audience’s needs Prepare visual aids that develop, rather than distract from, your points Overcome stage fright Grab your listeners’ attention and hold it

Guide to Persuasive Presentations
2 5 8 12 15 19 22 25 28 32 35 The Basic Presentation Checklist How to Make Your Case in 30 Seconds or Less by Nick Wreden

Coping with Stagefright
by John Daly and Isa Engleberg

Presentations 101
by John Clayton

Easy on the Eyes
by Kirsten D. Sandberg

Plan for Visuals Why the Best Presentations Are Good Conversations by Roly Grimshaw

Connect with Your Audience
by Nick Morgan

Presence: How to Get It, How to Use It Are Your Presentations Inspiring? The Twentieth Century’s Greatest Speech—What Made It So Powerful?

h a rva r d m a n ag e m e n t c o m m u n i c at i o n l e t t e r

The Basic Presentation Checklist
Here’s how to prepare and deliver that next speech effectively

assistant would have spent weeks researching startling factoids about the topic. And you’d be sitting down well in advance of the event with hours to spend preparing your presentation. Instead, the reality usually is last-minute. You’re pulling together material on the fly from a number of old talks and hoping no one will notice that the whole hasn’t really been thought through. But you can improve that all-too-typical experience with this basic checklist of the necessary steps for a successful presentation. Following these steps won’t give you a less hectic schedule, but they can ensure that you don’t miss something obvious the next time you have to talk in public. Copyright © 2010 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

In a perfect world, you would have learned about the presentation months ago. Your personal

Here’s how it works. You’re on the elevator riding down from your room to the mezzanine floor where the conference is going on. The person standing next to you sees your name badge and says, “Oh, I was thinking of attending your talk. What’s it about?” You’ve got less than 30 seconds to tell her. What do you say? You need to craft one sentence that answers that question. The answer should clearly contain the benefit that the listener will derive from the speech. For example, President Kennedy might have said, “My inaugural address is about how we can strengthen America and defeat world communism by working together on behalf of freedom at home and abroad.” The thought process will often be difficult, but it will help you focus your thinking about what you want to say.

1. Develop the elevator speech. The first step is the most important and the most often ignored.

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The Basic Presentation Checklist

presentation is a body of information that you and you alone have. That’s why you’ve been invited to speak. But you can’t begin by simply dumping that data on your audience. Listeners come to a presentation asking, “Why are we here?” That’s the question you need to answer first. So reason backwards. Look at what you want to say—the information you have—and figure out what question the audience would have to have in mind in order to make that information a fascinating, provocative answer.

2. Figure out the question to which your information is the answer. At the heart of your

Match the need that the audience has to act on its new knowledge with some specific suggestions about what to do.

You need to spend approximately the first third of your speech asking that question—more if the question is not well...
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