8 Tips for Creating a Memorable Presentation
Presentations are an inevitable part of almost every lawyer’s business development efforts. Unfortunately, all too often presentations are dull and lifeless—something viewed with dread by presenter and audience alike. However, with a little work you can make presentations that your audience enjoys, and that work as an effective marketing tool for you and your firm.
More than most professionals, lawyers are trained to be persuasive, logical and informative—all of which are key elements of a compelling presentation. These inherent attributes, along with some effective techniques used by professional presenters, can transform a mundane presentation into a memorable one.
Here are a few tips on keeping your audience engaged while at the same time effectively marketing your firm’s capabilities:
- Turn the presentation into your courtroom. Just as the opening statements outline the facts of the case, the evidence is presented and then the closing remarks summarize your case, a presentation follows the same format. Treat your audience more like a jury than a lecture hall to keep them engaged and invested in your presentation.
- Start with the last slide. One of the best methods for creating a compelling and memorable presentation is to start by creating the last slide first. The last slide is your closing statement, or in this case, the all-important “call to action.” What do you want your audience to do? Once you’ve determined that, you can then decide what you need to present to affect the call to action. As a lawyer would in court, the opening statements of a presentation outline the facts and key points about to unfold. Building your presentation by starting from the end instead of the beginning will not only help you get started, but also ensure that your messaging is targeted to your objective.
- Give your audience a roadmap. The content that you need for a presentation may be complex. Making complex information engaging becomes especially difficult when you don’t have a lot of time to present it. To help guide your audience, provide a framework or roadmap of the presentation. One of the easiest ways to do this is through an agenda at the beginning on what the presentation will cover. Another way is to create a branded graphic that is used throughout the presentation to remind your audience where they’ve been and where they’re going. Whatever method you choose, your audience will be thankful for giving them a guide.
- Speak to your audience, not at them. Your audience is in the room for a reason. It’s critical to understand why they’re listening to you so you can give your presentation in a manner that makes them more receptive. Your presentation should appeal to their needs first. When appropriate, engage your listeners in a dialog to refine what those needs are. Actual conversation is usually more engaging, informative and directed than a lecture, and it ensures that you aren’t making any misplaced assumptions. Find out what their pain points are before you address the solutions you provide.
- Simplify. Eliminate noise and clutter from your presentation by minimizing text, citations, numerous bullet points and boilerplate. If you absolutely need to share the fine print, put it in a handout for attendees. Instead of a lot of text, consider using a simple image that captures the concept that you can then talk about, instead of bulleting out all of the points you plan to make.
- Don’t use PowerPoint. Immediately grab an audience’s attention by pulling up a presentation that isn’t in PowerPoint. Consider using something like Prezi, a presentation software that allows presenters to zoom and navigate to text, visuals and multimedia, rather than click through in a linear way like PowerPoint. Presentations in Prezi are enriched by the ability to zoom in on an image or text and then zoom out to show the big picture. In the right situation, it can be a great way to bring data to life.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. Sure, we all know that we need to practice a presentation a few times before we give it, but can you give your presentation if you didn’t have the slides? You should know your content so completely that you are comfortable giving your presentation with no visuals at all. Mastering your presentation affords you the luxury of calm and clarity, essential components of a great presentation. Further, you will be prepared to change your script on the fly as you react to the particular interests of each audience.
- Think of your presentation as an opportunity. When given an opportunity to give a presentation, be it a CLE course, firm overview to a professional organization, a legal clinic, client presentation, etc., think of it as a business development, marketing and networking opportunity all rolled into one. No matter the audience, giving a presentation allows you the opportunity to make a real, in-person connection while controlling the message and information. It is a rare opportunity that’s not possible with many other types of engagements.
Thinking about presentations in a different way can help you take something potentially boring and ineffective, and make it engaging and interesting for your audience --as well as an excellent marketing opportunity for your firm.
Jim Confalone is the co-founder and creative director of ProPoint Graphics, a leading corporate presentation service firm that creates professional presentations for business clients of all sizes. For more information, please visit www.ProPointGraphics.com.