The Elegant Presentation

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In an earlierarticle, I shared some insights from The Elegant Solution: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation by Matthew E. May. An elegant solution Is the juxtaposition of simplicity and power. For engineers, it’s engines producing great performance with the least waste of resources. In a mathematical proof, it’s the minimum number of steps to achieve the solution with greatest clarity. For presenters, it’s a focused, succinct, compelling presentation that’s delivered powerfully from the perspective of the speaker and the audiences.  It’s the opposite of what we all think about when we think of “Death by PowerPoint”.

Our formula for an elegant presentation is ADAP – Audience-Driven Authentic Presentations. Like all elegant solutions, it’s not easy to achieve because it takes time, patience, creativity and courage to create an elegant presentation. It requires that you:

  • Clearly identify the presentation goal: what decision are you trying to influence?
  • What information can be eliminated, because it distracts the audience (and speaker) from the core message?
  • How elegant is each section? Is it organized to leverage the power of “storytelling” to engage people?
  • How elegant is each slide? Are you sharing core ideas (rather than writing wasteful sentences)? Are you using “power” words that grab attention and motivation action?  Are you using meaningful charts and visual images that instantly communicate the key point you are trying to make (as opposed to adding nothing but “eye candy” and charts that are almost undecipherable)?
  • How elegant is the delivery? Does the “speaker + visuals” form a coherent presentation (as opposed to being two separate media which duplicate each other, or (worse) weaken the better media?
  • How do you really feel about it? Are you being authentic or is this someone else’s presentation? The audience can always tell if your heart is in it or not!

What’s your goal when you plan a presentation? Are you budgeting the time needed to be creative and the courage to pursue perfection? Over 25 years, we’ve seen everything from people who simple want to “dump the data” and “make a report”, to those who want to present an effective presentation, to those who want to win the deal or promotion, and go beyond effective to elegant.

It takes time to master the fundamentals for future speaking and for each presentation.  Winston Churchill was a great orator who recognized the value of investing time, who once said “I’m going to make a long speech because I’ve not had the time to prepare a short one.” Similarly, Mark Twain saidI didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”. Take advantage of Presentation Excellence’s individual coaching, corporate training and public workshops to master key design and delivery skills, and to build “library” and other systems that will help other presenters in your company.

Don’t you and your team deserve elegant, winning presentations?