We often sit down and try to analyse what makes a really great presentation, not just a good presentation, a really GREAT Presentation. The type of Presentation that resonates and inspires other to go forwards and do great things. We often end up talking about many things, but usually end up with music, literature, and politics. Three arts which have one thing in common: the ability to tell compelling stories.
We have taken some isolated examples of great storytelling to illustrate what we think are the "4 Key Elements That Make Great Presentations". The 4 examples are inspired by Simbian Mobile Disco and one of the best albums of the 2010s Attack Decay Sustain Release. The title describes the generation of sound envelopes, particularly relevant in the development of the first synthesizers as early as 1938.
Attack: Sets the time it takes for the signal to rise from an amplitude of 0 to 100% (full amplitude).
Decay: Sets the time it takes for the signal to fall from 100% amplitude to the designated sustain level.
Sustain: Sets the steady amplitude level produced when a key is held down.
Release: Sets the time it takes for the sound to decay from the sustain level to an amplitude of 0 when the key is released.
So here is our list of 4 Key Elements That Create Great Presentations.
Attack - Kurt Vonnegut
From 0 to 100, or how to grab an audience's attention, fast. Too often we see Style win over Content. Style is important, but it is not everything. The true art is how to grab the audience's attention AND lead them into your messaging, combining Style with real Content.
Kurt Vonnegut breaks down the very complex subject of Story Structures in this wonderful presentation that goes from surreal to analytical, from simple to complex in a natural and engaging manner.
Key learning: Remember you have to grab the audience's attention, but not at any cost. Once you have their attention you must build on your messaging through Content and Messaging. Style + Content + Messaging.
Decay - Barack Obama
"The right word may be effective but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause" - Mark Twain
A Pause (with capital P) is extremely powerful as it can add drama, weight and clarity to your presentation. We find the Pause is best used in three ways; highlighting, transitioning and pace.
Highlighting. The 2 second Pause is verbal equivalent of the yellow highlighter, it says "This is important" to your audience and helps them to better understand, contextualize and remember your Key Messages.
Transitioning. When transitioning from one point to another the Pause is the equivalent to the cinematic Fade Out. It says to the audience "I have finished this point, and the next point is this".
Pace - and particularly it's modulation will keep your audience engaged and pauses help the presenter check they are not going too fast or slow. It's the equivalent of the musicians metronome.
I cannot think of any speaker who uses with such style the Pause as Barack Obama.
Key learning: Identify your key message, build up to it, deliver and then let the silence make that message memorable.
Sustain - Lightnin' Hopkins
Often when we work with great presenters at Remarkable our first piece of advice is "slow down". Speed is usually the enemy of Content. The ability to modulate your presentation speed is one of the most important arts for creating presentations that connect and resonate with audiences. Speed and volume are two tools which should be practiced and used, and there is no greater example than Lightnin' Hopkins. His use of speed in delivery is an art in itself.
Key learning: Quality always over Quantity. Edit your messaging, select the Key Messages and build your presentation around them. Be ruthless with the scissors and remove anything that is not absolutely necessary to convey your Key Messages.
Release - Leonardo DiCaprio
A great presentation not only start great, they end great as well: Endings are often overlooked and under practiced. Another common aspect is that too often great presenters do not ask their audiences to do go on and actually do something. Either because there is nothing to do or because they feel it is wrong to ask.
"People want to be told what to do so badly that they'll listen to anyone" - Don Draper
When you have connected, resonated and inspired your audience it is your duty to tell them what you want them to do. The Call to Action is the goal, it is the recognition of your ability to change people for the better, to cause positive action, to make the world a better place.
Key learning: Tell your audience what you want them to do. Let them participate in your message, cause positive action.
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