Catchy presentation titles are important when you begin to design a great presentation. Your audience will determine whether your presentation is worthy of their time almost instantly. In most cases, they make that determination based entirely on the title of the speech. In this session, I'm going to show you a quick and easy way to come up with a great title for your presentation. If you do this well, it will actually make your audience want to pay attention to your speech. I always say in class, "If you start with a great title, the presentation almost writes itself."
Think about the last time you went to a conference that has multiple breakout sessions going at the same time. If you are like most people, you first scanned the list of titles. Almost instantly, you eliminated a few based solely on the topic or title. The titles that you looked at created an impression of the speech. Once you narrowed down your choices, only then do you move on to the description, etc. In that instant where you were scanning the titles, though, you probably had this inner monologue going. "Hhhmmmm... Nope. Not worth my time. Nope. Sounds boring. Nope. That one is unrelated to anything of interest to me. Aaahhh... That one might be okay."
One of the real, closely-held, public speaking secrets is that every audience member has this inner monologue. This inner monologue occurs before every single meeting and every single presentation that we attend. In most cases, just as when we looked at the breakout session list, the answer we receive is, "Nope. This seems like a waste of my time."
Here are a few titles that tell the audience that your presentation will be a snoozefest.
First, your title has to tell your audience exactly what you will be covering. It can't be vague or generic. Each of the titles above violates this rule. What happened in the quarter? For that matter, which quarter? The term financials is also vague. What specific financials are we talking about? In addition to boring the audience at the onset, a vague title has a much bigger problem. The title causes the speaker to cover way too much content.
Second, catchy presentation titles will focus on what the audience wants from the presentation. If your title specifically tells the audience why they need to hear it, it is probably a good, catchy title for your presentation.
It is our job as the presentation designer (or deliverer) to make people want to pay attention to us. If you start with a great title, you are more likely to accomplish this task.
Follow this step-by-step approach, and your audience will want to hear you speak.
Step number one is to turn your idea into a complete sentence. Your first iteration of a title should have a subject, a verb, adjectives, and adverbs. When most presenters start creating their presentations, they often use sentence fragments as a way to remember what they want to cover. These are presenter cheat-notes. They aren't very helpful to the audience, though. Instead, your title (and your bullet points) should be really easy for the audience to read and understand.
For instance, the titles above would change to the following:
Just by forcing yourself to make your title into a complete sentence, you will narrow the topic down dramatically. If you look at the difference between the first list and the second, the second is more interesting already.
Step number two is to identify the "why." A good way to do this is to read out loud the sentence that you just created. Then ask yourself, "If I were sitting in the audience, why would I care about this? What is in this for me?" By the way, if the answers to those questions are, "I wouldn't," and "Not much," then cancel your speech. You are really just wasting everyone's time.
However, for the sentences above, the following might be good answers:
Although we like to think that department heads care deeply about company revenue and profit, in reality, most of us are pretty self-centered. However, the department heads care very deeply about their bonuses. Outside of the tech folks, no one really cares about website security. However, if a company has a data breach, the entire company will have new challenges to deal with.
Now that you have the two pieces, just put them together. When you do, you will create a series of catchy presentation titles.
Maybe these presentation titles aren't perfect, but you have to admit, they are dramatically better, now.
Originally, we had, "Quarterly Financial Report." We ended up with, We Exceeded Our Corporate Goals and Increased Profit Last Quarter, So Your Quarterly Bonus Has Also Increased." Which would you rather sit through? Guess what? Your audience thinks the same way. So, if you want to catch the attention of your audience right away, realize that catch presentation titles can help.