Presentation design by using phone calls

the presentation trinity

Content and structure are the Cinderellas of presentations. Everyone fusses about Delivery but that’s not where the bread-and-butter of presenting happens.

The real magic lies in knowing what to say and what order to say it in.

So here’s a simple-but-powerful tool that’s going to make your presentation structure… well… better. It’s about a five minute read. Or you can skep to the video at the bottom 🙂

So, how do you structure your presentation? …using a telephone?

I honestly think the best way of sorting out structure is my presentation genius design pack. But here is a cheaper way of doing it!

I want you to imagine, as you think of how to make your presentation, that instead of making a presentation. Instead, pretend you’re making a phone call. Simple! On the far end of  the phone is your perfect  audience.

man making presentation on phone

You start off the phone call by telling them why you’re calling.

Then you say stuff to them. And then they have a question and you answer that question.

And then you say something else. And they have another question. And you answer that question.

And you say a third thing, and so on… and it becomes a rolling conversation that goes on and on and on.

Now, what I want you to do is imagine/pretend you have recorded your end of that conversation. Because if you have been talking sensibly to the person on the far end the phone call, you should have explained everything to your audience in a way which is kind of organic – you’ve driven it but they’ve guided it too, because they’ve chatted back and asked questions etc.

And what you’ve got then, in your end of the conversation, is a reasonable starting point for the structure of your presentation. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great starting point. Include both what you said with initiative and your responses to their questions.

Don’t forget the importance of the sentence in blue above! How often do you start a (business) call with something like “Hi Bob. I’m just calling to bring you up to speed on X” or “Hey Jan. I’m calling to get your feedback on Y”?

working on better presentations

Using this to test your presentation design

Now, you can take this idea a little bit further, and you can use it as a test for your other presentations. Design your presentation using your favourite method – then use this technique for checking it out. Does it feel conversational? If so, great.

But all too often, presentations that we’ve “formally designed” feel like we’re pontificating to the audience… which puts them off.

Using this idea to deliver your presentation too

The phone call idea works as a delivery tool too. Imagine you’re just having a conversation with your audience down the phone instead of it being a presentationIt’s a conversation – It’s just that nobody can hear the audience’s bit (just like we overhear one end of a phone call).

What this idea does is change your entire mindset about the presentation. And instead of it being a performance, it just becomes a semi-casual chat, and that does a bunch of good things.First off, it relieves the pressure, it makes you less nervous. And secondly, it makes you so much more relatable to the audience because you’re not preaching at them. You’re just talking with them albeit they’re not really in a position always to talk back. So that’s it that humble telephone.

It’s a it’s an odd one, isn’t it?

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