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Advice from Nicole Kahn of IDEO to transform the way you give presentations...


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Irene Au summarizes:

Great advice on how to give a good presentation. In summary:

1. Run a Bar Test: Spend as little as 15 minutes with someone unfamiliar with the content of the presentation to see if they understand the point of the presentation. Force it to be succinct.

2. Build your skeleton: It takes three elements to make a great story: Your through-line (the point of the story), “Put me in the room” anecdotes (to give a tactile sense of experience), and Moments of reflection (telling your audience how you feel)

3. Craft your story: Less words, more visuals- Tell your story: Practice, practice, practice. There is no such thing as a natural-born presenter.

Anthony Burris in Irene's comments:

I use to use the 30-3-30 rule.

30: You have 30 seconds to do or say something so dramatic that all eyes and ears will focus on you for a moment.

3: Then you have 3 minutes to say, do or show something that people will put aside their physical or mental distractions and really give you their Undivided attention.

30: You then have 30 minutes to convince them. If they are not really into by then, you have lost them.

The best part of Nicole Kahn's advice is Build Your Skeleton:

“After a good Bar Test, the skeleton of your story should emerge: the main points you know you have to hit to make it memorable," Kahn says.

It only takes three essential elements to make a great story:

  • Your through-line that connects everything together — the point of you telling the story in the first place.
  • “Put me in the room” anecdotes that provide a tactile sense of experience, take your audience on a journey, and create drama. 
  • Moments of reflection — telling your audience how you feel in order to cue them to feel a certain way.

When it comes to telling stirring anecdotes, don’t stress about making them action-packed. They’re helpful even if you’re just setting the scene. Kahn gives the example: “'It was a Wednesday night and there were four storytellers taking to the creaky floor boards of the building as the waves crashed outside.' I tell you this and you’re immediately in the room with me even though it’s a pretty boring story. Nothing’s happened, but it’s the start of something. Anecdotes hang off the skeleton of your story and you can change its arc by changing the order you tell them in. Being able to change them up gives you control and flexibility as you present.”

Similarly, moments of reflection should be scattered throughout your talk to grab attention, create intimacy with your audience, and give them a window into your process.

“I might say something like, ‘I knew we were onto something the moment I met Sandy and she said this one thing.’ This cues the client to pay attention.”

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