Stories are powerful. Because they are memorable and meaningful, good stories are passed down through generations. They elicit emotions and make us act. When we are presenting, especially medical or complex data, it is important to do more than just recite the data to our listeners. The data needs to be crafted into a story that captures their attention, increases understanding and retention, and incites action. Here are 10 things you can do to tell the story of your deck:
- Begin with what you want your listeners to know and do. The first thing you need when crafting your presentation is your goal or destination. What do you want your audience to walk away with? What action do you want them to take after hearing your story?
- Think through the outline of your presentation, including a clear summary of the key points on each slide. Outline your 2-3 main points. Include the data and case studies that help support each point. Be sure to include transitions between each point to help guide your audience.
- Support the information you’re presenting by adding brief illustrations from your clinical experience. Be sure to include these examples every 6-8 minutes. Make it personal. Your audience came to hear you and they want to hear about your experiences. Where appropriate, include stories from your clinical experience that help illustrate the main points.
- Include an engaging opener that shows how you connect with your listeners and how this talk will benefit them. Grab the attention of your audience from the beginning with an energetic welcome that clearly outlines your objectives. Be sure to include a clear WIIFM (what’s in it for me) statement to hook your audience and give them a reason to listen.
- Remember, the slide is the visual aid – you are the messenger. Don’t read your slides. Maintain eye contact with your audience (not your slide) anytime you’re speaking. It is appropriate to look back at the screen to remind yourself of where you are and where you are going next, but be sure to turn back around and speak to your audience.
- Create a conversation around the questions and concerns of your audience. Be sure to provide your audience with opportunities to get involved. Plan for appropriate times for interaction (e.g. asking questions, asking for questions, taking a poll, etc.). Keep the conversation on track while giving listeners time to express their questions or concerns.
- Conclude with Purposed Q&A. Before you summarize and wrap up your presentation, hold a final Q&A session, allowing the audience to ask any questions they still have. Communicate to your audience that after the Q&A ends, you will conclude the presentation with a summary and action statement. Build in the time for this Q&A when you are planning and rehearsing your presentation.
- Practice a lot and out loud. This dramatically improves memory and confidence. Be sure you practice your presentation well in advance, including thinking through possible pitfalls and places your audience may have trouble. Practice your transitions between main points, know where you’re going to create interaction, and think through your opening and closing.
- Read your audience’s facial expressions and other verbal and nonverbal cues, then speak to their needs and interests as a colleague and friend. Watch for facial expressions and body language and listen to the words and tone as they respond to you. Be sensitive to their feelings and help guide them through the deck. Be prepared to alter your approach based on how the audience is responding.
- Have fun! This will also help you keep your energy high and your tone personal. Believe in your material and your audience will as well. Be energetic, friendly, and personable to create a connection with your audience.