A vast majority of professionals and leaders are afraid of giving presentations, and nearly 75 percent of the population in the world has stage fright. However, at work, we are expected to present our ideas, solutions to stakeholders, colleagues, and clients. Delivering client sales pitches, making presentations to senior managers, or contributing to formal meetings can all be intimidating experiences even when we are confident of what we are supposed to present.
For any presentations to flow well, it should have a good beginning and equally a compelling end. Over the years, I have used the PIECE framework for delivering effective presentations. The framework constitutes the following elements:
Prepare with a purpose: The presentation should always have a purpose; it could be selling an idea or conveying any information or concepts. Stephen Covey, in his book ‘7 habits of highly effective people,’ says that ‘Begin with an end in mind’. Presentations are effective if the audience relates to the purpose, and having no purpose can dilute the essence of your presentation.
Lesson: Know the purpose that needs to be driven either in the form of ideas, concepts, or thoughts and then structure your presentation accordingly.
Initiate with the right hook: Initiating your presentation with a good hook is crucial. The audience decides whether to pay attention or not within the initial 60 – 90 seconds. Storytelling can be a great hook and has worked very well for many speakers, and starting the presentation with a nice story has found to be one of the best hooks. However, the story should have reasoning, credibility setting, and emotions – logos ethos and pathos as per Aristotle.
Furthermore, statistics and numbers always generate curiosity and are great at grabbing attention. Similarly, quotes by famous authors or personalities can do equally well. Visuals, in the form of videos or charts, can also be useful. Lastly, humor can connect very well, but it needs to be timed well. Remember, it is always better to try one hook at a time and then decide what works well for you.
Lesson: Grab the attention of the audience with any of the effective hooks. Choose the one that suits best.
Engage the audience: One-sided presentations are too cumbersome to sit through. Remember, it is not just about you providing information but also engaging the audience as well. Asking questions, rhetorical questions, taking show-of-hand polls, checking for opinions, group activities, and short role plays are some tools that can be used to engage the audience. The optimal attention span for an average audience member is between 20 – 25 minutes. Hence, keeping them engaged every 20 minutes or so with an activity or engagement tool would help.
Lesson: Use different engagement techniques to make the presentation a two-way street.
Convene to the purpose: Moving away from the track has been one of the significant reasons why otherwise excellent presentations fail. Many times, we tend to deviate from the goal, and that’s why we need to convene our ideas and opinions by keeping the purpose in mind. So, being mindful of the topic has proven to be helpful while presenting. If you feel that an activity or question is pushing you farther away from the subject, be mindful of it, and bring back the conversation on track after quickly addressing the burning issue.
Lesson: Use mind mapping techniques or cards to ensure that the presentation stays on-course.
End with an action plan: The beginning and the ending of the presentation are crucial, and that is why it is critical to ending with an action plan. A strong call to action has been found to keep the audience interested until the end. If the audience is expected to undertake certain activities, post the presentation, provide them with the tools and mechanism to follow-up with the plan, and sustain it on their own.
Lesson: End with a plan of action and help the audience devise their plans in the process.
Individuals with excellent communication and presentation skills are always in demand as they play a vital role in presenting pitches to clients and customers. Similarly, leaders need good presentation skills to communicate the mission and vision of the organization as well. By following the PIECE framework, presenters can prepare an effective and engaging presentation easily. What are some ways in which you deliver presentations, and how likely are you to use the PIECE framework in future ones? Let us know.
“The views expressed in this article are mine, and my employer does not subscribe to the substance or veracity of my views.”