Communication Skills - Your Presentation Aim

Bearing in mind the points made earlier, you are now in a position to begin writing the detailed content of your presentation based on:

• Your aim
• Your key message statement
• Your three to five supporting key points
• Your knowledge of the audience

Every presentation is different and whilst it is possible to provide general guidelines, it can be quite difficult to see how these apply in practice. For the remainder of this eBook we will use the example that we introduced in our eBook 'Planning a Presentation'. In this example, you have been asked to inform your senior managers of the findings of a recent customer satisfaction survey.

Your presentation aim

Your Presentation Aim
Explain reasons for poor customer satisfaction and suggest solutions

In this scenario, the survey has highlighted that there is some degree of dissatisfaction with customer service and you have been asked to present this information to senior management. Your presentation is one of several that will be given during the day and you have been allocated a 30-minute slot. Because the information you are presenting is fairly contentious you should allow at least ten minutes for questions, which means that you need to develop a 20-minute presentation.

This background enables you to plan your presentation and to define your presentation aim and develop a key message statement. You know your presentation environment consists of the following:

• Audience - Executive Board
• Audience Knowledge - strategic level, based on an expectation of growth offering a 'good' return on investment.
• Agenda - Yours is the first presentation after lunch.
o The last presentation before lunch was by the Chief Finance Officer who was updating the executive on the current financial situation against annual targets.
o After your presentation the executive will be discussing potential business partners, led by the Chief Executive Officer.
• Time Slot - you have been allocated 30 minutes on the agenda.

The implications of these aspects of your presentation environment are summarized in the following table. Your audience will be strategic thinkers and will not be particularly interested in operational issues unless they have a financial impact.

Presentation Environment

Even though the customer satisfaction survey contains a lot of interesting information, this audience taken as a whole will only be interested in how this dissatisfaction affects the bottom line. In other words, what needs to be addressed to retain key customers and encourage them to sign up for additional services?

Whilst individual audience members may be interested in specific areas of the survey, the executive as a whole will not want to hear about individual cases, so you need to present the information in strategic terms.

This is further reinforced by the executive's view of customers, which tends to be in terms of:

• Percentage contribution to revenue
• Share of their market sector
• Sector importance to the organization
• Impact customer could cause through negative press coverage
• Level of investment the organization has made in servicing the customer

You have been given the one slot no-one wants: the first after lunch. This is commonly known as the graveyard slot because your audience has just eaten and after a break it usually takes people a while to get back into a work-related mindset.

In the 'Planning a Presentation' eBook the importance of a key message statement was discussed. The aim of a key message statement is to engage the audience straightaway by making it clear that what you are about to say is important to them.

In this example, you could choose a key message statement like
'Results of the Customer Satisfaction Survey' or
'Issues that have affected our customers' perception'

However, both of these are fairly bland and are unlikely to get anyone's attention. Using something like

'What our customers really think of us' or
'Why we could lose $500,000 of business this year'

are better options because they are attention grabbing without being over the top. In practice, you would use your knowledge of the organization to decide on a key message statement that supported your aim and was backed up by your key points.

In this example it is unlikely you will have your time slot shortened because the former presentation has overrun, but you will need to plan for this if your agenda position falls between other agenda items. Remember you need to have sufficient time to get across all your points to ensure your audience fully understands your message.

All these factors mean you will need to produce a high-impact presentation. This is because the message and key points you make will have implications throughout the organization.

You may also be interested in:
Preparing a Management Presentation | Repetition and Timing | The Five-Stage Format | Preparing the Main Body | Key Point Guidelines | Finalizing the Main Body | Preparing Your Pre-Introduction | Preparing the Introduction | Preparing the Summary and Conclusion.

Key Points

  • Think about who your audience are, what they want from your presentation, and what knowledge they already have.
  • You may need to make allowances for your time slot being cut short.
  • If there are speakers before or after you, then you should liaise with them so that you don't contradict each other or repeat the same material.
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