Government briefings… only this year have they become such an integral part of our lives. In fact, it’s testament to the weirdness of 2020 that so many of us (16.3 million) interrupted our Halloween festivities on October 31st to wait over an hour for a press conference, announcing Lockdown 2.0.
Perhaps Halloween was the right date for the briefing because, quite apart from the grim state of the of pandemic, the truly scary thing about the government presentation was the presentation itself. It was in stark contrast to some of the clear and engaging graphics news channels were plying us with from the US Elections…We’re not here to get political; just reporting what was in front of us. And what was in front of us during the PM’s pres was a set of overly complex slides that didn’t fit the page, a rambling narrative and the ever present but singularly cringe-making phrase of ‘next slide please’…
Here at 438 and in collaboration with our presentation partners Chainsaw Communications, we’ve always prided ourselves on crafting and delivering great presentations, both for ourselves and our clients. We’ve turned 200 page business plans into neat 20 minute summaries, extremely complex data models into engaging content and even begun navigating the new and often baffling world of presenting remotely.
Because of this we couldn’t just sit on our hands when we saw the PM’s presentation. We thought we’d knock up ten super easy tips to improve future presentations of this sort. So Prime Minister, these are for you.
1) Curate your data, keep it relevant to your audience. Only show what is needed to support your key points or you risk bamboozling your audience.
2) Make the data you do use, clear and accessible. Simple is far more credible than complex and is the only way forward if you have a hope of communicating it to your audience.
3) Chunk and build the data. Make sure to time the content with your delivery.
4) Define your strategy. Plan your presentation with your objective in mind. What do you want to the audience to do/think/feel and how will you make it happen? @Boris- your strategy might have been ’blind them with science’…(but perhaps it should have been ‘make it clear, appeal to their conscience’.)
5) Be consistent. Consistency is powerful, in slides and in delivery. Say it, say it, say it again. Find different ways to deliver the same message, but always be ‘on message’.
6) Be human. You’re not perfect and authenticity is engaging, so deliver the slides as yourself, particularly if it’s a huge ask of millions of people… a touch of honesty and humility goes a long way.
7) Rehearse. Boring but necessary. Your delivery will be much improved if you take the time to say it out loud, and not just to yourself. An objective audience will give you important tips to boost effectiveness.
8) Prepare. Check your tech. Can your audience see the information clearly? Are the zoom controls covering vital information? Do you know how to end the meeting? A distorted, unclear presentation will not do anything for your credibility.
9) Be in control, drive your own story. Never find yourself saying, “Next slide please. An inexpensive clicker solves this problem perfectly!
10) Make your point and move on. Don’t trap yourself or your message in unnecessary complexity. Waffle and compelling arguments do not go together.