Take time to nail your next presentation

Past Present Future Clock | Axiom Communications

How an intriguing technique can help you develop your skills

We’ve all been on presentation skills workshops; we’ve all learnt pretty much the same techniques. Little wonder then that few presentations really stand out as memorable, soul stirring, action inspiring experiences.

I think what’s needed from a skills development workshop are tips that will give you an edge over your fellow speakers, so that’s exactly what I strive to deliver. Here I share one such technique, and it’s about time.

Chrono-logic progression

Great presentations have a clear structure that the audience can easily follow; a beginning, a middle and an end. This often takes the form of: The challenge we need to rise to, the current situation and a call to action; to get us to where we need to be in the future.

There is a simple chronologic, well, logic, to this flow:

  • Where we’ve come from
  • Where we are today
  • Where we need to be in the future.

Floor your audience

Audiences, like the rest of us, tend to think of time as a linear progression, left to right, like you’d find on a wall planner, Gantt chart or project plan. We can use that common frame of reference to our advantage when presenting.

So to help take your audience with you as you travel through time; past, present and future, I recommend you make the best possible use of the very floor you are stood on, by creating three distinct zones to present from.

In a space on the left, as they watch you present, you begin with the past; where we’ve come from, the challenge we need to rise to.

Next, calling your audience to come with you on this time travelling adventure, your slides move to where we are today. And you move too, physically to the centre of the ‘stage’.

Then of course, as your presentation transitions to where we need to be in the future, you transition too, to a space to the right of the audience as they watch you.

The technique works even more effectively, if your actual language, body language and slides work congruently to reinforce where, in time, you are.

And you don’t need a huge physical ‘stage’ to get the best results. A single pace to the left or right of your screen will do the trick if the room is small.

Make negativity a thing of the past

Once you’ve firmly established these three time zones in the mind of your audience, you can harness them to great effect during the Q&A phase of your presentation.

If someone in the audience asks you a question which dwells on the old ways of working, or is just plain negative, you can consign their comment to history by ‘standing in the past’ as you acknowledge and repeat their question. Then you move the conversation to a more positive future-facing mindset by answering it from the zone you’ve designated, in the minds of the audience, as the future.

Future facing focus

As your presentation comes to a close, you’ll want to end on a call to action; your future facing focus, what needs to be different and the role your audience has in making that a concrete reality. And as you’d expect, you deliver your rallying cry from the zone you’ve stamped in the minds of your audience as the future.

So now you’ve got another technique in your toolbox to hammer home your key points and nail your next presentation. You just need to invest in time.

Insights to your inbox