We get asked on our web chat time and time again “What can I do my presentation on?” So, we thought it was about time we helped answer that question.
Typically when tasked with delivering a presentation, you’re given a topic to focus on. It could be a sales pitch, it could be a report on the results of the latest social media campaign, or it could be on the quarterly financial report. These types of presentations (ones with clear briefs) give you something to work with. They give you direction, an idea to work towards and a structure to frame your presentation around.
But sometimes in life, you’ll be thrown into open water and asked to do a presentation without a theme, subject or focal point. It could be for a job interview, a university assessment or for internal purposes at work events.
Open briefs can seem like a nightmare because they’re completely directionless and leave you afloat in a sea of your own vague ideas. However, with a bit of practice (and reading this blog), the dread of an open brief can become a presentation dream. Let’s take a look at how you can generate ideas for a presentation even when you’ve not been given a specific topic.
Before you settle on one idea, you’ll go through dozens that don’t make the final cut. Think about it: teamwork makes the dream work and multiple perspectives are better than one. Bouncing ideas off one another is better than going for the first idea you think of. Creative brainstorming is an effective method of consolidating all your ideas, finding links between them and building on disparate thoughts. It encourages you to think critically and evaluate your ideas by breaking them down into smaller parts.
Listen to your passions
Delivering powerful, impactful presentations is much easier if you’ve got a passion for what you’re speaking about. Everyone experiences a degree of nervousness when a presentation is imminent, but you can channel nerves into excitement and positive energy if you’re genuinely feeling the topic you’ve chosen. Passion is an essential ingredient of an effective presentation. If you don’t believe in what you’re preaching, why would the audience?
Think about your audience
We’ve all been victims to terrible presentations at some point in our lives. The ones that are too long, too salesy, too complicated, too boring. To prevent yourself from becoming a perpetrator, you’ve got to shift the focus from your objectives, to what the audience wants. When thinking about what to do your presentation on, the audience should be at the forefront of your mind. Your ideas have to be rooted in your audiences’ desires. Consider their wants and needs, but also consider their challenges. If you frame your presentation to address their problems and needs, they’re more likely to focus on what you’re saying as the topics are relatable.
Teach your audience
If your audience enjoys and remembers the key messages of your presentation, you can probably call it a win. Getting people to actually remember what you’ve told them is no easy feat, but endeavouring to teach them something new is a good place to start. Deliver your presentation like a thought leader. Look at the Obama campaign speeches, look at Oprah’s lectures, look at Steve Jobs’s keynote presentations. All of them have strong messages, all of them teach their audiences something about the industry that they probably didn’t know, and all of them see themselves as educators.
Tell a story
Great presenters tell stories. You want to do your presentation on a topic that inspires your audience to adopt your ideas. Storytelling is a powerful way to do this because it works in the same way that our favourite movies and books do. When you build a presentation story, position your audience as the hero in the adventure. They’re the ones who have to overcome challenges in order to find success. It’s your job to show them how your ideas can guide them to a better way.
The most magical presentations are those that elicit interest and inspire people to take action. This is where the topic for the presentation becomes critically important. For those who haven’t had the time or opportunity to refine their presentation skills, you can make up for it with your passion and taking an audience-centric approach.