Take Your Bullet Point and Shoot Me

image of people in an office conference room. one woman in black dress is speaking to one male and two other females. woman in black dress stands next to dry-erase board with a marker in hand

Oh no, I’ve got to do a presentation… help!

O.K., but first, do you remember any bullet point presentations you’ve ever seen?? At a conference when someone walks to the podium and fires up a PowerPoint and begins reading it to us (like we can’t read), what are you really thinking? Did you check-out?

Even without a PowerPoint when someone takes the mic and begins to talk we expect them to: “tell us what you’re going to tell us, tell us, tell us what you told us”.  If they don’t, and they just keep droning on and on, don’t you just tune out at least to some extent? I know I do.   

So here’s my advice on giving that great presentation. The biggest hurdle is to get their attention early AND keep it. Our mind is so adept at recognizing what is “normal” and responding without really thinking. Yet, when we see something unusual our minds go on alert thinking, “What is this? This is interesting.”

So that’s our task… show them something unusual early on and keep it coming. Like a headline on an article that has the phrase “shoot me” in it…

Compare a PowerPoint to this…

Two guys walk to the stage, pull up two chairs side-by-side, remove their suit coats and hang them on the backs of the chairs, reach into a duffle bag and pull out two pilot hats which they proceed to put on, then sit down and begin a “pre-flight” checklist.

Do they have your attention? You bet they do, they caught you totally off guard. A skit is a “story” and stories draw us in.

Many years ago the airline industry invited Tom Peters to be the keynote speaker. At that time (maybe still) airlines tracked their “on-time” departure as “on-time” if it left within 15 minutes of scheduled departure time.

Remember Tom Peters is the Excellence Guru. At the scheduled time for Tom to speak there was no speaker. Everyone will give a speaker a few minutes, but at 10 minutes people were frantic to find the speaker. At 15 minutes after the scheduled time Tom walks on stage looking at his watch and announces to the crowd.. “well I see by your standards I am “right on time”.

Did he have their attention? You bet.

  • Tailor the presentation to your personality and to the audience.
  • Get their attention from the beginning by doing or saying something totally unexpected.
  • Change pace every 5 minutes or so to keep attention at the high level.
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