When we think about about a presentation we typically consider the presentation itself, its preparation, planning and rehearsal. But it's also critical to consider how we engage our audience -- how we actively encourage their listening, understanding and belief in us. Just standing on the podium and speaking won't do the trick.
Fortunately there are some techniques that we can use. And a major technique is the presentation theme. There are 5 things to bear in mind, though, when we use a theme in our presentation.
Make it memorable. Themes help our audience to remember our presentation. And when our audience only retains some 10% of our speech that's important. Themes are remembered by an audience because they can be. They work in much the same way as logos, slogans or catch phrases. They are typically creative, clever and appropriate for the task.
Keep it simple. Our theme should be both simple and consistent. The simplicity is critical for memory -- we don't want our audience struggling with complexity at this stage of the event. Consistency is all important. We should neither deviate from the theme during the presentation nor be tempted to make adjustments as we go along.
Be practical. Our theme should evoke practicality and purpose. If it has these qualities it will be familiar to our audience and prove more meaningful. Practicality suggests utility and benefit -- both are of interest to our audience. When our audience can sense practical benefits attributed to listening and engaging their engagement increases.
Be thorough. There is no need to struggle for ideas when thinking of a theme for our presentation. There are many workable approaches to getting it right. We can talk to the conference organizers. We can establish whether the conference itself has a theme. Or we could identify if our particular day has a theme to it. In either case we should aim to use this theme -- or tweak it slightly to our own purpose. Using something that has resonance elsewhere will be productive. As an alternative we can look at all the other presentations on the agenda and establish whether there is a theme that runs through all of them. If there is, then use it. We could also think about some of the pressing issues that our audience will recognize from their work or professional interests. Issues such as: competition, globalization, outsourcing, innovation or quality. Such issues might be both relevant and familiar. Therefore, they could prove useful in building a theme that is practical, consistent and simple.
Consider the objective. As we finalize our theme we should recall the purpose or mission for our presentation. We are looking to achieve something with our audience. Change their ideas. Change their opinions. Or, change something that they do. Our theme should help us in this mission. Both our purpose and our theme should be aligned.