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The Presentation cheat sheet – one

With the BAP Finals in town on Friday the 13th and the upcoming APICTA 2009 participation sessions, here are my notes for the presentation cheat sheet:

a) For a winning presentation the first prize always goes to the group that can answer the questions judges need to answer. Take a look at the scoring sheet for the competition and then ask if you have answered all the questions in a way that would allow the judges to score you properly. If you don’t have access to it, ask the organizers for the judging criteria. In general they won’t have a problem sharing it.

b) Scoring sheets are always competition specific. Depending on the goals of the competition they may focus on themes, impact or simple wow factors.

c) Once you have the content ready to cross all the questions/scoring items on the sheet and you understand the theme of the competition, you now need to weave your story.

d) A great presentation is basically a story telling exercise. Think of the best stage play you have ever attended. The ones that you still remember. What do you remember? Great stories and plays engage and connect with the audience, have a number of magical elements that bring the performance together, are well rehearsed and without fail move the group that witnesses the show.

e) Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to putting together performances. Some put it together in their head, others prefer paper. I sometimes start with pictures and then build a story around them, or build a story and then look for images to support it. There are times when I have told a story only with pictures and words and no supporting audio.

f) Regardless of how you start, you must build the following elements. A start, the plot and the pitch and the close.

g) A great start does a few things for your audience. It introduces you and your pitch in very clear terms. Ideally it should directly or indirectly answer the basic questions. Who are you, what do you do, and why should I care about it? And depending on how you do it, these three questions should be addressed within the first 90 seconds of the start.

h) Post the start you have a number of choices. You can begin the pitch or you can first introduce the path you would take to wow them.

i) Great plots unfold in layers. Each layer leaves a message and either reinforces the layer that preceded or sets the foundation for the material that is about to be introduced. Sometimes you put yourself in the judges seat and ask yourself questions that need to be answered based on your story and theme. The plot that you then define answers each of these questions in a logical progression.

j) The close is an opportunity to reinforce the message and once again connect with the judges and the scoring theme. Think of it as the start all over again accept this time you are putting together the final scenes for your exit.

k) Once you have a basic handle on your theme and the three elements (Start, Plot/Pitch, Close) then it is time to rehearse.

l) Rehearsals do a number of things for you. They allow you to test the flow, check the time, rearrange your mix and dry run delivery. Each rehearsal is an opportunity for you to improve and try presentation elements. The first few are done in private – in front of a mirror, on your desk, in the pool, while driving. Once you have some control, you can do runs in front of audiences and gauge reactions and impact.

m) Basic rule of thumb. For every twenty minutes, rehearse two hundred minutes. And if you are pitching at APICTA or the MIT BAP, double that for good measure.

That is all for now. Take a look at the following three slide share presentations. Consider that as your homework for today. In my next post we will go through these one by one.

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