(By Randy Lane) “According to most studies, people’s number-one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two! Does that sound right? That means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfield
The more prepared you are, the less nervous you will be, and the fear of public speaking will slip to number two. Whether your presentation is in front of your team, clients, or in public, a successful presentation hinges on preparation. All of the techniques that I recommend for planning and structuring presentations apply to radio and podcast shows as well.
7 Steps to Preparing a Killer Presentation:
- Start brainstorming your presentation analogue, the way Apple begins a creative project. The act of pen to paper, or markers to a whiteboard, connects to your right creative brain. Get all of your ideas out, then go to the computer to organize and edit your presentation.
- Determine your core message or big idea and three main points from the initial brainstorming, or “scratching” sessions, as Twyla Tharp calls them. Make your core message concise and memorable, so it can be repeated throughout the presentation. The core message for one of my recent presentations was, “The future of radio is talent.”
- The most effective presentations are structured by The Rule of Three, a core message supported by three key points that are illustrated best by stories and secondary information. Numerous research studies have revealed that people can only retain up to three points about any product, service, or presentation.
- Open your presentation with a brief personal anecdote (self-deprecating ones work best), or an attention-grabbing headline to immediately engage the audience. Start each of the three key points with a headline as well. Repeat the core message after each key point.
- State the pain point or problem you are identifying and resolving shortly after your opening story or headline. Utilize contrasts throughout your presentation by setting up issues and how they are resolved.
- Break the pattern. Microsoft studies reveal that the average attention span is eight seconds! Once you get the audience’s attention with a headline, you have to re-engage their attention every few minutes by breaking the pattern or changing the energy. Here are several attention-getting devices to plan into your presentation:
- Tell a story. We communicate, learn, and remember stories.
- Silence: Pausing before or after major statements or questions creates anticipation.
- Interact with the audience with a question, an exercise, or a game.
- Play a piece of audio.
- Play a video.
- Use a prop.
- Repeat a quote.
- Make a dramatic statement.
- Issue a challenge.
- Hit a punchline.
- Move to another part of the room or stage.
- The close:
- Repeat the core message.
- Summarize your three key points.
- Recommend three action points.
The antidote for our number-one fear is preparation. Practice, practice, practice. In the words of fabled basketball coach John Wooden, “Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”
Randy Lane has worked as a DJ, program director, and general manager. He launched the Randy Lane Company in 1996 with the mission of developing morning shows and coaching talent. He has collected numerous industry awards, including Billboard’s “Consultant of the Year” for Adult Contemporary and Top 40.