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Tips and Tricks about Presentations


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This post was written by
Scott Schwertly

Scott is the Founder and CEO of Ethos3.

Basically, we love everything that comes out of Pixar, the production company started by Steve Jobs in 1986. Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Cars, WALL-E, the Toy Story movies and more of our favorites were created from the minds of those working at Pixar. Recently Emma Coats, a former Pixar storyboard artist, compiled a list on Twitter (@lawnrocket) of things that she learned from her time working at Pixar. Most of it is poignant advice from which we can derive some tips for storytelling in our presentations.

“You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.”

This is absolutely essential advice to keep in mind as you create each part of your presentation. Make every decision as if you were a person sitting in the audience. Something that might sound great to you, as a presenter, might not resonate with your audience in any substantial way, so be careful to weed out those inconsistencies in your presentation. Simply acknowledging the fact that your interests may be completely different than your audience’s interests is a good place to start.

“Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.”

Again, this advice is very important for any presenter. As we repeat over and over again on this blog, simplify everything. Ensure that your presentation has a clear focus, and make sure you eliminate anything and everything that is not directly crucial to delivering that focus effectively. Coats sagely acknowledges the difficulty in cutting stuff that seems valuable, but in the end, your story (and your presentation) will be better as a result.

“Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.”

This is good advice for whatever field you work in. Know what you like and why you like it. Of the last five presentations you attended, what worked and what didn’t work? What did you like and what did you hate? Was it too long or too short? Consider these questions when you leave someone else’s presentation, so you can apply those likes and dislikes, those complaints and praises to your next presentation.

“What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.”

Before you begin crafting your presentation, make sure you’ve established, in detail, what it is you want to say. Make sure you’ve established the core message of your presentation; make sure you’ve narrowed down the focus to something manageable. And finally, we really like Coat’s mention of the “most economical telling of it.” What’s the shortest, quickest, easiest way to deliver your presentation? How can you reveal the core meaning, the core focus of your presentation in the fewest words possible? Establish that economical telling first, and then work from there.

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