Many times I work with clients who are delivering high-stakes presentations in a business-to-business environment. Though “high-stakes” can mean different things to different people, think of it as a situation where something major is on the line and achieving results is paramount.
For business leaders, this could range from a sales rally or new product launch to an annual conference, industry trade show or analyst meeting — and may very well be a defining moment in your career.
Cracking the C.O.D.E.®
If you’re facing a high-stakes situation of your own, the question becomes, “What makes some presentations absolutely brilliant and others simply just OK?” To ensure that your next big presentation lands firmly in “brilliant” territory, here’s our four-step C.O.D.E.® process for cracking the presentation code:
Step 1: Clarify
- Gather information to identify, clarify, and develop your core message
- Brainstorm by yourself or with others and answer this question in one sentence: “If my audience can only remember one thing, what do I want it to be?”
Your core message (also referred to as your central idea) should be so sticky that every person who leaves your presentation can repeat it. A holistic nutritionist I was coaching came up with a terrific central idea for a workshop she was delivering to investment bankers. Her core message, “Everything you eat contributes to your bottom line,” had a high sticky factor because it spoke directly to her audience.
Another memorable example came from a researcher who specialized in competitive intelligence for the financial community — calling bonds “the nerds of your portfolio.” Again, a central idea that was clever, targeted, and directional.
Step 2: Organize
- Group your content into digestible bits of information with a logical structure
- Make sure everything maps back to your core message
During a recent day-long marketing workshop I attended, the speaker shared a laundry list of 33 different marketing tools. Valuable information, but halfway through I was utterly exhausted trying to follow along. Simply grouping these techniques into “chunks” — print, digital, and social media, for example — would have given the audience a structure to grasp what was being discussed.
Step 3: Develop
- Media should help listeners visually grasp what is being discussed.
- Less is more; don’t bore your audience with more visuals than you need.
Once you’ve clarified and organized your information, it’s time to consider the best way to incorporate any media. A well-done PowerPoint supports and adds depth to your story. Learn more about our “R-S-V-P™” method with tips on designing compelling visuals.
Step 4: Express
- Tell your story with enthusiasm
- Use an easy, natural style of presenting
Too many presenters adopt an artificial style or try to imitate someone else. Worse, they steamroll ahead in an effort to just get through it. Relax, slow down, and connect with yourself, your message and your audience. Your authenticity will result in a memorable presentation.
Be the message
By using the four-step C.O.D.E.® process outlined above, you now truly “own” your message. So now what? Practice, of course, and stay committed to making sure your audience truly “gets” what you are saying.
If you’re sincere and authentic, your audience can’t help but share your enthusiasm — and wonder how you cracked the code.
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