So, you’re a molecular biologist leading your field in groundbreaking research, that’s great! The problem is that you’re being told by pushy marketing people that, “the marketing department has created slides and we need you to use them so we can maintain a consistent approach to the market.” In effect, you’re being told NOT to adjust your presentations to your unique audience.
Is there really a problem here? Isn’t consistency in outreach efforts a good thing? Companies can’t afford to have every presenter making or adjusting their slides and deviating from corporate branding, can they?
Brilliance ≠ Greatness
Of course it doesn’t, but each presentation needs to fit its audience. This means the presenter needs to do extra research, this time of your audience and what their needs are. It doesn’t matter if your presentation is clear to other scientists if it doesn’t make sense to the audience of finance and marketing people that you’re speaking to.
For the past 20 years we’ve worked with amazing scientists who are fantastic in their field but fail to see the importance of making great presentations. Presentations are a different beast entirely where it’s not about the transference of data, evidence, research, or logical arguments, it’s helping others see the world differently. It’s the WHY behind the WHAT. With that new insight the audience can think about and solve problems in new ways which, before the presentation, they wouldn’t have thought of.
Brilliance = Simplicity
Science can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be presented in difficult-to-understand manners. Poor presentation habits are formed in early classroom education, from high schools and universities. Our experience has told us that Einstein had it right. He believed that great presentations begin with a clear objective and then progress by building a clear presentation structure around meeting specific audience’s needs.
The first words from a presenter are what make or break your presentation and determine whether or not you capture your audience’s attention. Each segment of the presentation must have a clear beginning, middle, and end (think of your favorite books, symphonies, movies, etc.). Real world complexity is built one simple idea at a time, so you need to build your conclusion, not jump to it from the start. Connections are clearly drawn, processes are mapped, and points build upon one-another until you can deliver a conclusion that creates a crafted finish, not an end.
Stories Capture Audiences
The world of science creates fantastic stories. Presenters take us with them on the journey and show us struggles and ideas it took for them to succeed. A great presentation with story points feels like a thrilling movie or a moving orchestral piece. Feelings are evoked and at the finish the audience should feel relieved, enlightened, or excited.
Approaching a presentation should begin with how you want your audience to FEEL at the end, not just with what you want them to learn. Research has shown that stories increase audience retention by 20% so it’s vital you design your presentation this way.