- Anecdotes: A funny story or a story that makes a point is often more memorable than just a bullet point.
- Demonstration: When you show your audience what you are trying to tell them, they will often have more clarity.
- Quote: A testimonial from an expert or client at the right time can add credibility.
- Sample: Something that your audience can see, touch, and feel has more impact than just a description of the item.
- Name Drop: If you don't have a quote, you can name drop others who agree with you.
- Non-PowerPoint Visual Aid: A spontaneous flip-chart drawing, a poster, or board will often have a greater impact on the audience than an image on a slideshow that is more temporary.
- Showmanship: Never underestimate the entertainment value of your presentation.
Proceed with Caution. Presentation Enhancers Add Impact to Good Presentations.
Before you just start adding a bunch of these impact ideas into your speech, proceed with a little caution. These presentation enhancers will make good presentations great presentations. However, if you have a poorly designed presentation, and you add in these enhancers, you will likely make the presentation worse.
A good analogy (one of the ideas that we will cover later) is what the great American Philosopher, Bill Cosby (pre-conviction) once said about cocaine. Cosby asked a friend of his why he did cocaine, and the friend replied with, "Because it intensifies your personality." Cosby paused and said, "Yeah, but what if you are an A-Hole?"
These impact ideas are exactly the same. If you have a good presentation centered around just a few key bullet points, then adding a couple of enhancers under each bullet for reinforcement will work well. If you have 50 slides already prepared, and you add in additional content, you'll likely make the presentation worse. So, proceed with caution.
If you are in the beginning stage of designing your presentation, start with How to Design Presentations Quickly.
7 Stellar Presentation Enhancers that Add Impact to Any Speech.
#1 - Anecdotes.
In other posts, we have covered stories and examples in great detail. (See Podcast 7: Public Speaking Storytelling Techniques to Engage Your Audience and Reduce Stage Fright.) A personal stories or a real-life example from your own experience clarifies content in your presentation. This technique also is a subtle way to build your credibility on the topic. When you relay success stories from your own experience, your audience realizes that since you have that experience, you are an expert on the topic. Anecdotes are a little different, though. Anecdotes can either be funny incidents (true or fictitious) that help you make a point, or they can also be 2nd person or 3rd person stories experienced by someone else.
- Funny Stories. I'm not a big fan of just telling random jokes in a speech. However, funny anecdotes that make a point are very useful. The great news, today, is that you can pretty much just type the words "funny story about _______" (insert a keyword from your bullet point) into Google, and you will find something. Once you find a funny anecdote, just make sure to tie it in with the point that you are making. (And give credit to the author.) For instance, I typed in "Funny Public Speaking Failures" and I found this gem...
While traveling with a Sister Cities/Chamber of Commerce business-exchange group to Nagaoka, Japan, I was asked to speak after breakfast about marketing in the U.S. Seeing an opportunity to show off my linguist skills, I asked my interpreter how to pronounce the words on the distant signs for “Ladies” and “Gentlemen.”
After practicing to myself, I began my speech with “Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen” in Japanese. This got quite a reaction from the audience. I delivered a killer 20 minutes of marketing wisdom, and sat down to generous applause. I was quite pleased with myself. Only later did I learn how strange my greeting was: One of our hosts gently inquired why I had started my talk with “Good Morning, toilets and urinals.” Lee Rogers, The Rogers Group Marketing and Advertising (Posted on https://www.genardmethod.com/resources/funny-public-speaking-stories
- 2nd or 3rd Person Story. Although our own personal stories help us build our credibility as an expert on the topic, another person's story can be more practical in a lot of situations. For instance, if you are a sales representative, your personal experience using your product or service isn't nearly as credible as a story from one of your customers. This past week, I had a scientist in my class who studied melanoma. Although her stories of actually doing the research added a lot of credibility, she got more impact by telling stories of patients who had survived cancer based on these studies. Just be careful. When you re-tell a story from your own experience, it takes little practice. However, when you relay a story that you received from another person, you might want to practice your delivery a few additional times.
#2 - Demonstration.
Sometimes it is much easier to show someone a process than to tell them. I remember in the sixth grade, my teacher had us teach each other a step-by-step process. The trick was that the person receiving the instructions had to do EXACTLY what he or she was told and do nothing more than he or she was told. Our assignment was to teach the class how to make a peanut butter sandwich. Initially, we said things like, "Take the bread out of the plastic bag." When we did, though, the person listening just ripped the bag to shreds and bread went flying all over the table. Next we tried, "Put peanut butter on the knife." Of course, the the listener left the knife sitting on the table and moved the entire container of peanut butter on top of the knife.
After a number of miscues, we started discussing a little strategy with the other speakers. We finally came up with the idea to go to the table ourselves and have one of us (they voted that I do it) say, "Just do what I do." Then, I made a sandwich and explained what I were doing in each step. (We all got an A on the project. So did everyone else who went after us.)
I never forgot this lesson. It is a whole lot easier to show someone what to do than to just tell them what to do. This type of visual aid is critical when teaching someone how to use software or how to use a tool.
#3 - Quote.
A good quote allows you to borrow the credibility of an expert temporarily. Tom Peters is a famous motivational speaker who uses a ton of quotes in his speeches. Peters once said...
"My conclusions are much more credible when I back them up with Great Sources."
I agree. When you quote an expert, you are basically giving your audience a second-opinion. It's also easy to insert quotes into your presentations. Just like with the funny story above, Google "Quotes about ________" (insert your topic).
Make sure that the quotes that you add are short and easy to remember, though. A lot of speakers will put long quotes on a PowerPoint slide and call that a supporting point. This will most likely fall flat in front of a group, though. No one wants to read a long quote. In addition, if you read it to them, it will sound strange. You will get better results inserting a couple of easy-to-remember quotes that you can tell your audience verbally. Craig Hadden in his post How to Use Quotes in Your Presentations said it really well...
"Short Quotes Pack More Punch!"
#4 - Sample.
Sometimes, an item that a person can see, touch, and feel is a better visual aid than a photo or slide. One of the best examples of this was about a decade ago when I was teaching a presentation class in Las Vegas. One of the participants worked for the Southland Corporation (the company that owns 7-11 convenient stores). At the time, 7-11 was having a marketing crisis, because they had spent decades building up brands like "Big Gulp", "Big Bite", and "Slurpee". The buyer had shifted dramatically, though, to healthier options. So, 7-11 had started offering fresh deli sandwiches in their stores. This marketing person gave a presentation in the morning of the class talking about how nice their new healthy sandwiches were.
Throughout the day, we began to take the original presentations and add more ways to jazz each of them up a bit. So, at lunch, this marketing person went to a 7-11 and also to a competitor and bought a sandwich from each as a sample. The deli sandwich from her store was beautiful and fresh. The sandwich from the competitor was one of those where a sandwich was cut diagonally into two triangles and shoved into a triangle plastic box. She passed each around the room. Everyone agreed that the triangle sandwich was awful, and by contrast, she likely won a few audience members over to the fresh sandwich that her company made. A good sample can be very compelling.
#5 - Name Drop.
A Name Drop is similar to a quote, but without actually quoting the source. A name drop could either be a famous person or a company. For instance, since my company has taught presentation classes for over 400 of the Fortune 500 list, we often name drop big customers in the same industry of a company who is requesting information from us. For instance, if we are speaking to a university, we will often let them know that we have taught presentation classes for Texas A & M, Boston University, and even Harvard. Those clients allow us to have a lot of credibility in that industry.
Another example is when I'm teaching classes about how important it is to narrow down your content to three to five main points. I often name drop other professional speakers who also agree with this idea. For instance Slide Genius, Presentation Magazine, and big training companies like the Dale Carnegie Organization and the AMA all believe in some form of the "Rule of Three" in a presentation.
Notice that in each of the examples above, I'm not quoting any of the sources, I'm just saying that each of the sources agrees with the statement that I'm making. Of course, if any of the listeners in your speech want to verify the claim, it is easy to do with a Google search. That is what makes this so powerful. It allows the inner Sherlock Holmes in your audience members to come out and do their own investigation. When they do, they find that you were right on the money.
#6 - Non-PowerPoint Visual Aids.
I'm not saying to not use PowerPoint. I use it all the time. I'm just saying that don't use PowerPoint as your ONLY visual aid. For instance, instead of just inserting a photo to a single slide of your slideshow, you might want to get the photo made into a board or poster. This type of visual has more longevity.
A company a few years ago was competing to win a contract for a five year project. Instead of doing like everyone else and organizing a sales slideshow about how great they were, this company had just a single visual aid. It was a 20-foot board with a timeline of the entire project. They broke the project into component time periods and told stories about how the project would proceed through each period. It worked very well.
On a different project, I was coaching a team was trying to build a high-tech science center on the campus of the University of Texas. My client had worked with hundreds of universities on building projects, but, at that time, they had only done a single project where the guidelines for indoor temperature, humidity, etc. were so exact. So, when I first began my coaching with them, they had organized their entire presentation around this single past success. They had a photo of the previous project that looked like something out of Epcot. It had an aluminum, glass, and mirror exterior. It was a beautiful building, but the UT campus is right in the middle of downtown Austin. The campus is very Gothic in nature. (Think stone pillars and gargoyles.)
After just a few questions, the team realized that if they tried to convince this university board to insert the Space Odyssey building into the their beloved campus, it was not likely to go well. So, one of the architects took a sketchbook and a pencil down to the campus and just started to sketch things that were on the current campus architecture that he liked. He did this just to bring back some ideas to the team, but the sketches were so good, that they became a part of the final presentation. After a few slides, the speaker hit the "W" button on his laptop which created a blank white slide. The architect then slid a tripod with his sketches in front of the impromptu spotlight. It was different and memorable. They got the job very quickly.
#7 - Showmanship.
Never underestimate the entertainment value in any presentation. Let me repeat that because it is so, so important... Never underestimate the entertainment value in any presentation. Most speakers think that if they just give their audience the knowledge and content without sounding like an idiot, they have succeeded. However, think about Ferris Bueller's teacher. "Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?" If you aren't interesting, your audience will often be distracted from your content. So, it is important to add some flair or showmanship to your speech.
Obviously, if you add in a few of the other seven items, you will have a more interesting delivery. But the key is to think to yourself, "How can I make this content more interesting?"
I had a class member who was a line supervisor for Amgen Pharmaceuticals. One of his main jobs was quality control of the cancer drugs that were being created on his line. During his presentation, he asked us, "Have any of you ever seen a million dollars?" Of course, we all shook our heads no. He continued by sprinkling a few granules of sugar (from a packet from the coffee bar at the back of the room) onto the table in front of him. He said, "If that much contaminant gets into our drug line, we lose a million dollars worth of product." It was a really dramatic way to make his point, and we all remembered it.
Regardless of Which (or Any) of These Ideas that You Use, Do Something Different.
The ideas that I've covered in this list are nor exhaustive. In fact, some of these ideas may spark creativity in other areas where you can add more impact to your presentation. The most important thing to remember is that you don't want to just do what everybody else is doing. Make your speeches a little different. Make them a little more interesting. If you do, your audience will love you.