Good Presentations Are Like Good Theater
Great theater is one of the great pleasures in life. It is more than a simple event; we hope that it will be an exceptional event, a memorable event, an experience that moves the audience to identify with the story and characters.
Good Presentations are like good theater. Both have 3 basic components that are essential. 1. You need a good script. It should be a story that draws the audience in – and keeps them interested until the final moments. 2. You need good actors who can bring the roles to life. They not only know their lines, but they are natural in their characters who merge completely with their roles. This makes them so believable that the audience can no longer see the actor behind the role. And finally, the eye needs to “see” the story supported by a good set, good props and appropriate costumes – all of which reflect the story being told and the roles being played by the actors. All three components need to work in harmony as one – so that the performance is convincing at every level.
Likewise, a great presentation needs to be well structured and written. Every presentation is a kind of story, and therefore, should be written, similar to a script for the theater, using the thousands-year old story structure. At the beginning it should introduce the problem or issue that will be addressed in the core of the talk. Just like every play (or novel and film), the audience needs to know what the problem is. This raises tension – and creates an emotional need from the audience to know how the problem will be solved. It should then proceed to go through the steps of how the speaker came to a solution, with occasional drawbacks to keep the tension up. It’s a basic formula, but one that few business presentations follow. Unfortunately, what often happens instead, in many business presentations, is that the presenter completely skips the problem description and background context for how a situation came to be as it is. As a result, the audience has no idea what is trying to be solved. They then tune out due to confusion or lack of interest, and begin to look at their smartphones or notebooks. Therefore, the script (or story you’re going to tell) is really the key factor when developing your presentation.
The second factor in a presentation is learning to deliver it well. That means using your voice (flow, intonation, pitch, tempo and pauses), gestures, body language, and eye contact in a way that makes you authentic and interesting – but not exaggeratedly so. Many presentations skills training seminars make “delivery” the focus their training workshops, often to the exclusion of learning how to finely structure and write your presentation. .
And finally, you need to have attractive and visual friendly PowerPoint slides – which would be like the props on a stage. The 90% rule for using slides is that they should make complex or complicated information easier to understand. They should not simply repeat in printed form what the speaker is saying. They should be pictures, diagrams or graphs – or something the eye can process quickly (i.e. usually less than a second). In other words, text slides are a no-go. Why? Because reading anything more than short bullet phrases engages a different part of the brain than that used to process true visuals. And it is extremely difficult to do while listening to speaker – and often leads to a type of concentration crash.
At the International Presentation Academy, we offer a Presentations Skills Training Seminar that will guide you through a step-by-step process in developing your structure and written content. We’ll show you how to write the different components of a talk and then connect them into a natural flow.
We will also use that same hands-on, step by step approach to improve your delivery skills (working with you on speaking flow, intonation, tempo, pauses, body language and eye contact). And finally, we will work with you on how to make your PowerPoint slides exceptionally viewer friendly – escaping the trap of using text-based visuals that only scare and discourage and block your audience from identifying with the speaker.
Our Presentations training Workshop is similar to the theater in another way as well. The method we use is to have our participants practice, practice, practice – until they get it perfect. This is not a flipchart seminar. It’s also not a pinboard seminar with lots of cards on lots of pinboards. Rather, it is like a Presentations Skills Bootcamp Training – and at the same time like a dress rehearsal for the presentation you actually need to make. If you’re interested in our Powerful Presentations seminar, then please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org