The primary objective of communicating in the first place is to convey a message, and the big challenge in communication is to do so effectively. This in itself can seem blatantly obvious and over-simplistic, but what happens on many occasions is that, either the desire transmission does not occur, or it does not occur effectively. This gains increasing importance and relevance when, for example, you have to present that project you have been working on for three years and you only have ten minutes to convince the client, investor or sponsor that the idea is not only good but worth considering. Sometimes the opposite occurs. You might have an absolutely extraordinary and novel idea, and you need funds to make it happen. In this case, you’ll need to be extremely clear and transparent in order to convince those who will be the decision-makers. Both situations can also come up in our daily lives, such as the board of a community of owners in an apartment block, a small start-up, SME, or a large group of companies with large scale projects and economic scope.
The secret to success
The guidelines to achieving success are common to any environment and situation, regardless of its size or the audience. The secret lies in fine-tuning the content and mastering its staging effectively. There is a natural tendency for people to overestimate the importance of content and to neglect aspects relating to the surrounding environment that end up being more important than you think. Obviously content is important, but that still amounts to no more than 20% of the whole exercise. Without content, there is no show, but 80% of the work falls into delivering the presentation – staging it. The quality and clarity of the graphic and audio-visual material, size and type of font, backgrounds, contrast, colours, spacing, body language, tone of voice, pauses, and if applicable, music and audio quality, are fundamental aspects to bear in mind to provide that favourable environment that opens the door to learning. It is no coincidence that I continually preach how entertainment leads to learning. The golden rule behind an ideal script is a good, clear and solid structure comprising an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. Losing the audience’s attention must absolutely be avoided at all costs. Language has to be simple and free from technicalities, and generally in few words and without the excess of graphics, manage to transmit powerful messages. These messages are precisely the invaluable information that will be used to make decisions and take action.
The perfect balance between content and staging is therefore the key, along with the golden rules that apply to the development of each of these. The vital ingredient, just as for any gourmet dish, is rehearsal. Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse, as Steve Jobs said. A rehearsal does not only include, as is commonly believed, reading the script, correct pronunciation and other aspects related to the content, but it also includes getting to know the environment in which the presentation is to be performed. I would like to emphasize once again, that this is regardless of the place, the magnitude and the audience. Whether it is directed at two people, or two thousand, in two square meters or two thousand, the rule is the same and applies to every situation. The difference between an improvised presentation and a well-prepared presentation is enormous, very easy to detect, and it is fundamental to the audience’s perception and therefore their willingness to learn.
To conclude, and referring back again to the first paragraph of the article regarding the effectiveness of communication and the effective transmission of a message, there is nothing better than explaining what has been learnt to a third person in as much detail as possible. This is the fundamental objective when preparing a presentation. It is the same thing that good writers do with their novels, and the same exercise that can be done after reading this article