OSRAM – The Five Components of an Effective Presentation – Part 5 of 5 – The Message

How do you give an Effective Presentation?  What makes the difference between an average presentation and an effective presentation? This is Part 5 of 5 focusing on The Message.

There are five main components of an effective business presentation. The acronym OSRAM should help you to remember them and help you to light up your audience. The five components are:

  • The Objective
  • The Speaker 
  • The Room 
  • The Audience
  • The Message

You should consider each of these components in turn to maximise the effectiveness of your presentation. Neglecting any individual component can ruin an otherwise successful presentation. Put them together correctly and you will turn on a light in people’s heads; brighten up their lives; get your audience to see and understand things, about which they were previously in the dark.

This series of articles looks at each of these components in turn and discover what needs to be done to ensure the success of that component.

The Message

Last but by no means least of the five components of an effective business presentation, is your message.  It is surprising where the time goes to when you get up and start talking. In a 30 to 45 minute presentation, you have only time to get across three main to points.

Keep it simple!  If you cannot state your central message in one or two sentences, you probably have not narrowed your topic enough, or clarified your thoughts enough.

  • Decide on three key points.
  • Develop supporting evidence for each key point. Include statistics, stories or examples.
  • Develop a strong introduction and powerful conclusion with a call to action.
  • Use visual aids, which help to communicate your message.
  • Perform the presentation with enthusiasm, variety and passion.

I have 3 golden rules for making your presentation memorable:

  1.  Never let them get ahead

This first rule is more about ensuring people listen rather than making it memorable, however if your audience don’t listen in the first place they are very unlikely to remember anything. As soon as your audience gets ahead of you and thinks that they know what you are going to say next, they will stop listening. After all, why bother listening if you already know it?

How can your audience get ahead of you?

The classic way is if you put up a slide with 5 or 6 bullet points and start talking your way down the list. While you are on the first point they will have read them all and will be ahead of you. Another classic is giving out handouts of the slides before the presentation. Everyone is likely to read ahead, to see what you will be talking about and will already have decided if you might be worth listening too, even before you stand up to speak.

  2.  Just Do It  

My second rule comes from a saying by Confucius:

  • I hear – I forget
  • I see – I remember
  • I do – I understand  

While this may not always be true, after all there are some things you hear that you will never forget, I think the general gist is true.

Take driving to a new location as an example. The first time you go you need to look at the map to see how to get there but if you drove their one day you can invariable drive their again later without looking at the map. However if you were a passenger on the first trip and then have to drive there yourself another time, you will probably need to check the maps again. This is because when you drove you actually did it and understand where the location is, when you were a passenger you just heard and saw but didn’t really understand where you were going.

What has this to do with presentations? If you really want your audience to understand what you are talking about you need to get them to do things. Either physically or mentally. Make them think, ask them questions, get them to participate, not just sit and listen.

Take them on a journey where they imagine using all their senses, describe what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it smells or tastes like and what it will feel like to do something.

3.Do it in threes

For some reason that I can not explain, the human brain remembers three things better than it does two or four. Politicians and advertising executives have used this in speeches and in advertising for thousands of years.

  • Vini Vidi Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered) – as Caesar said.
  • Grace Pace Space - Jaguar’s tagline in the 50′s J
  • Just Do It - From Nike

The tag line “Just Do It” is not “Just get on with it” or even “Do It” which logically you may think would have more impact and be more memorable. It is “Just Do It” because of the rule of 3. 

However, it does not even have to have just 3 words as long as the rhythm is right: “The Best 4×4 by Far” – from Landrover works because the way it is said has three phrases “The Best , “4×4“, “By Far“.

I apologise that the above examples have a very British flavour to them, but thinks of tag lines from your favourite vendors are I’m sure many of them will be in “threes.”

When you cannot do it in three, then use 5 7 or 10. Groups of 2, 4, 6, 8 or 9 are not recommended, as they are less memorable.  Do not ask me why, they just do not work as well. I suppose that is why we have a top ten, and not a top six or top nine.

Politicians, leaders and advertising executives all use the rule of three. Now you know about it, look out for it.  You will be surprised how often it is used. As you can see from the examples above another favourite memory technique is to use alliteration. Combing the rule of 3 with some alliteration is particularly powerful.

  • Location, Location, Location – the great rule of property
  • Education, Education, Education – what this country needs according to New Labour

So have three benefits at the end of your presentation, it will be easy to say, sound better and be more memorable.