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.

A Few Good Men: Why Kevin Bacon’s Presentation Is A Benchmark For Salespeople?

Kevin Bacon’s character, Jack Ross, is a benchmark for sales people to follow in selling effectively. The key to great and effective selling is the presentation. The presentation should explain the product in easy to follow language. It should answer all the customer’s questions, and it should freely flow to the close.

Closing a sale is the reason why you are talking to that client. To close you must connect and be comfortable with your client and they with you. This connection and comfort level is created in the presentation. If there is a comfort level, the close should be natural flow from the presentation.

The best presentation that I have ever seen is Kevin Bacon’s opening statement to the jury in the movie, in the character of Jack Ross in “A Few Good Men”. In his presentation, Jack explains his position (his product). He explains his product to his customers ( the jury). He explains why his product is the only alternative to solving their problem (reaching a verdict). He anticipates objections. In his presentation he explains that only he has the evidence that would explain the crime that was committed. Jack does such a masterful job that Tommy Cruise’ character, Danny Kaffee, readily admits that he has no real case.

Let me briefly explain the plot of the movie. The movie takes place in a military setting. A marine is not performing to standard. His commanding officer (Jack Nicholson) decides to “motivate” him with two other Marines. This action is called a code red and it is unauthorized. A rag is stuck in the Marine’s mouth and he dies, with the two Maries charged.

Let’s observe Jack’s masterful presentation to the jury. “The facts in this case are simple. Two Marines killed a third marine. This case is just that simple. Now the defense is going to put on a show for you…and mind you it will be quite a show. It will be entertaining, you will enjoy it. They (Tom Cruise) will entertain you with words like “code red” (A code red officially doesn’t exist in the Marine Corps.) Now mind you, all they can do is entertain you, because they have no evidence to support their claim. So beware. Once you get past the entertainment and focus on the evidence presented you will only conclude that the defendants did kill this Marine and your only verdict will be guilty”.

What is happening here? Jack has many “customers” that he is trying to sell. The Marines are on trial will be executed if found guilty. Jack is trying to convince them to accept a plea. They don’t want that because they feel that they following orders.

Jack is trying to sell the parents of these Marines to accept the plea. In the movie, Jack’s best friend, Danny Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is being pushed by Demi Moore’s character (Lt. cdr. Jo Ann Galloway), to pursue a code Red issue. This is critical because if you charge an officer with this offense, a Marine lawyer must have conclusive proof that this actually happened. If this evidence can’t be presented, then the attorney (in this case, Danny Kaffee) can be charged and court martialed. He is also trying to convince the jury that a murder has been committed.

Jack masterfully tries to sell all of his clients. The presentation is meant to convince all listeners that only the evidence counts. The defendants have no real evidence. Only a confession by Jack Nicholson will exonerate the defendants. A code Red can only be proven if Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) will confess. There is not chance for this happening.

He wants the jury prepared. He knows his good friend Danny may smoke screen them with secondary issues. He prepares them masterfully for this in such a way that anything Danny does will not move the jury. In the presentation, a close is arrived at through smooth transition.

“A Few Good Men” is a true movie classic. I think the presentation is the central point in the plot of the whole movie. After the presentation, Danny and his team understand that a confession is the only means by which an innocent verdict can be attained.

How this confession is gotten by Danny makes for one of the most riveting scenes I have seen in a movie. The court room questioning of Jack Nicholson by Tommy Cruise is spell binding and something you must see if you haven’t already seen the movie.

Negotiation: Agreement

If you are negotiating a buyer/vendor agreement with a familiar partner, business can still be concluded with a handshake. Most likely, however, a contract or written agreement is the gold standard, because finances, deposits, guarantees, etc. are involved. The path to an agreement requires preparation, a top-notch presentation and discussion of the details.

The other side may request certain revisions and/or concessions. Evaluate the net effect of such changes: What real impact will they have? Are they asking too much? Is the request feasible? All too often we take a dissenting response in negotiations too personally. Depersonalize it. Look at the proposal in a purely objective manner and accept it, re-submit it, or refuse it. Consider your next step, and be prepared to proceed accordingly if you are unable to modify your stance.

The vendor may also totally refuse your proposal or requests. A good negotiating partner with an opposing view should simultaneously offer an alternative, but this does not always happen. Your next step should be somewhat strong, but well prepared. Ask why your request is being denied. If that answer is reasonable, sit down and discuss the process that led to the decision. Look for key elements that you can work with that might open doors to a positive conclusion.

If the response to your “why?” is close-ended, sometimes it is best not to waste any more time on further discussion. If other sources are available, move on. Be sure the other party is made aware that these actions will cause you to reassess your long-term relationship, but be professional and don’t dwell on it.

If this happened to be the sole supplier of what you require (which is somewhat rare), and you can’t do business on your terms, you may have to do business on their terms. This is usually workable, although not always desirable.

It is possible that the negative decision was made by someone higher in the organization than your negotiating partner. If it has been effective in the past to talk directly with the decision maker in this organization, suggest that diplomatically.

When negotiating for anything, whether you are looking for seats, fares, rooms or override, always remember to keep in mind the needs of the other party. This will show in your presentation and will be acknowledged and appreciated, thus producing a more desirable result. Develop a rapport with your negotiating partner, but never try to leverage a “favor owed.”

Do not undersell the value of your service. Offering large scale rebates in preliminary and secondary negotiations can, in fact, reduce the credibility of your offering, raising questions in the prospect’s mind about your ability to work on such a small margin. Carefully analyze your financial capabilities. Do not make unrealistic commitments. Negotiate in good faith. Keep mutual goals, mutual successes, and economics in mind both in your written and verbal negotiation presentations. Your ability to negotiate well and fairly should become as developed as the other principles of success that have enabled you to be where you are – and grow where you want to go.