The photograph attached to this post is of a Japanese taiko drummer from the group Kodo at a performance in Singapore. What is so impressive about these performers is their absolute focus and intensity. As an audience member, I marvelled at their inventiveness and musicality, but also at their precision and clarity. They are intent on every beat of the drum.
We all know that in a presentation it’s important that you understand the point you are trying to make, and that your audience is also clear about this message. Yet, time after time it’s an issue for presenters. I see hundreds of presenters every year and at least 50% of them are unclear with their objectives, and so they deliver without intent and consequently without impact.
When you are presenting it’s not enough to have a general idea of what you are doing - to think that you are just going to share some information. That will usually create a flat and unfocussed presentation. Think about what you want to happen or change because of your presentation. That will put some energy and intent into your delivery, much more than if you are just sharing data. So, you are delivering some monthly sales figures. Wouldn’t you be more impactful if you were also to suggest some related action? Improving the sales process from the customer’s point of view, making better use of customer data, including other products in the portfolio…?
On a broad level, your presentation should have a purpose, and generally it pays to make your audience aware of that intention. In most presentations, you do not want them guessing. It’s so frustrating for the listener to get halfway through, or even to the end, and to then realise what the presenter was trying to say. They then have to re-evaluate everything already shared through this new understanding. Why not just let your audience know from the beginning? You can tell them what questions your presentation is going to answer if you don’t want to give the game away. Or you can just tell them, ‘I’m going to show you our February sales figures. Things are pretty even like last month, so I’m also going to suggest a customer-focussed change to our process that could help create an increase.’
On a more micro, drum-beat level, each slide should have a clear intent. Very often, people ask me how to improve a slide. The first question I ask them is ‘What do you want the slide to achieve?’ It’s surprising how many people cannot answer that question.
If you know what you want to happen because of your presentation and you know how each slide fits into achieving that, then you have some intent. And consequently, some dynamism. Then you can deliver with impact, like the Kodo drummers do.
To see and hear the Kodo drummers, check out the video below.