How to Stay Focused in a Presentation

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and walked away thinking "I'm so confused"?

Have you ever had an in-depth conversation with someone and walked away thinking "I totally get it"?

Whether you're giving a work presentation, talking with your doctor, or debating an issue with your spouse, anytime you're having an important conversation, you need two things so you can successfully fall into that "my audience totally gets it" camp:

Key messages and soundbites. What are these and why are they so important?

In my nearly 20 years (awesome, now I sound like I'm 97 years old) of working with clients on branding and public relations strategy, I've observed even the most polished professionals have a tendency to attempt to tell every single thing they know in one sitting. While they walk away feeling smart and like they really got bang for their buck, they've likely failed to do the most important thing:

Send the audience away with key ideas they can easily remember.

Key messages are the point of your meeting, presentation, letter or conversation -- the ideas you must convey to your audience. You are allowed three. More than three and you need to set up an additional appointment. Why? You're subjecting your audience to information overload AND you will lose your focus. So, commit to your three or fewer messages and jot those down.

Next, take the three key messages and distill a few words into soundbites. A soundbite is the essence of your key message, made irresistible to the audience. 

For example, if your key message is this:

As a family, it would be helpful if everyone could pitch in to clean the kitchen after dinner before moving on to other activities.

The soundbite is this:

No one has fun 'til the kitchen is done!

What if you are giving a presentation to a potential client? If your key messages are:

--You need someone who can implement strategy quickly, and we have experience in your industry.
--Our company has developed a system with a 98% success rate.
--Our streamlined system saves money.

The soundbite is this:

You need fast results. We have a plan and proven success. Let's get started. 

Present your key messages and soundbites then zip it (as explained here.) Redirect the conversation back to your messages and repeat your soundbites often -- you'll be surprised how effective this strategy is in business and in life.


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