Jamie Oliver’s current TV series and book are called ‘5 Ingredients’. I love this simplicity, and it’s an approach which works really well with presentations. Oliver says that this series is for people who don’t have enough time to cook, as ‘we all have busy lives now’. The issue is: do you just make the lazy fast food choice, or do you think smart and create something which is quick and simple but also delicious and nutritious?
When it comes to presentations, a lot of people appear to not leave themselves enough time and then make the lazy choice, which explains why I often see the PowerPoint equivalent of frozen pizza and curly fries. Your audience might be expecting the usual bland, unoriginal rubbish, but there’s a huge opportunity to genuinely excite them by serving something original, tasty and a little bit inspiring.
Fresh, Simple and Delicious
The key to a delicious presentation is choosing your ingredients carefully; you only need a handful of choice elements that will give the maximum interest while also delivering something cerebrally nutritional:
For my fail-safe presentation recipe, you will need the following:
- 1 goal
- 1 theme
- 1 story
- 3 images
- 1 sense of purpose
Writing your structure is like prepping your ingredients, chopping them into useful sizes and then combining them effectively.
Goal: why are you giving this presentation? To educate, inspire or move people to take a specific action? Perhaps it’s all three. Identify your goal first or you’ll find yourself floundering without a proper direction; unpleasant when you’re up against the clock.
Theme: the high-level concept which runs through the whole thing (this may only come to you part way through the process of writing). Once you have the theme, it enables you to select only the essential material. Filter everything through the theme: if in doubt, cut it out!
Story: usually people don’t even bother with this. Think of it as the way you lay the food out; no story means no structure or human interest – the equivalent of tipping a whole meal out onto one plate. Using a good story creates three beautifully-presented courses of material; a format that’s very satisfying for your audience. Exquisite.
Images: good images are the seasoning, highlighting the flavour of your key points. Use original photos instead of the usual stock rubbish – it’s like using fresh herbs instead of the bland dried version (you can use more than three if absolutely necessary), which also shows your dedication to the process, which your audience will admire and appreciate.
Sense of Purpose: rehearsal is the cooking, with three possible outcomes:
- Fail to rehearse adequately and your presentation will be raw and unpalatable: rambling, awkward and messy.
- Rehearse a script verbatim and you’ll burn your presentation: a wooden, unemotional delivery sabotages the whole experience.
- Rehearse with keyword cues only, keeping it conversational. The whole thing fits together neatly and flows naturally.
When it comes to the delivery, show that you are dedicated and really mean business. Conveying that this presentation really matters to you will help it matter to your audience, too.