woman giving a presentation

When you put three of my favorite things together — checklists, advice how to be more persuasive, and recommendations for better presentations — you have an unbeatable combination.  Dorie Clark, in the Harvard Business Review, offers her checklist for more persuasive presentations including:

Have you simplified the structure? You’re so familiar with your idea, even very complex facets of it now seem obvious to you. But that won’t be the case for people hearing it the first time. Ask yourself how you can clarify and simplify the information you’re presenting, perhaps into a series of numbered steps or phases. For instance, the process of how to reinvent yourself professionally may feel overwhelming. But in my book Reinventing You, I describe a three-phase process of discovering your brand, creating your brand, and living your brand that helps readers break an involved process into discrete steps so they feel comfortable taking action. That enables the audience to grasp a complex solution more readily, and inspires more confidence in the path you’re proposing. It also has the added benefit of providing an overarching structure for the meat of your presentation.

Have you included a story? Some professions — engineering comes to mind — embrace a “just the facts, ma’am” approach, rich with statistics but devoid of stories. It may seem frivolous or pandering if you’re not used to presentations that feature illustrative anecdotes, but you’re putting yourself at a significant disadvantage if you don’t use storytelling as part of your toolkit. That doesn’t mean concocting treacly leadership fables. But it does mean recognizing that a piece of data can become more powerful if you pair it with at a concrete example to help others visualize what you’re talking about. Make sure your outline includes at least one story to enliven your presentation.

Have you included a call to action? The final place most professionals go wrong in their presentations is failing to present a clear call to action at the end. The next step may be obvious to you — invest in our company, or approve the budget for the full-scale launch. But it’s rarely that clear to the audience, which is hearing the pitch for the first time. If you’ve done your job up to this point, they’ll be on your side. Now you can clarify for them exactly what action they can take to show their support. Make sure you’ve built this element into your outline.

Read the full story at A Checklist for More Persuasive Presentations

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