Create an inspiring and motivating presentation, no matter what the topic.

By f4group, November 21, 2014

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  1. Unleash the master within. Passion leads to mastery and mastery forms the foundation of an extraordinary presentation. You cannot inspire others unless you are inspired yourself. You stand a much greater chance of persuading and inspiring your listeners if you express an enthusiastic, passionate, and meaningful connection to your topic.
  2. Tell three stories. Tell stories to reach people’s hearts and minds. Brain scans reveal that stories stimulate and engage the human brain, helping the speaker connect with the audience and making it much more likely that the audience will agree with the speaker’s point of view. Tell more of them.
  3. Practice relentlessly. Harvard brain researcher Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor had this “stroke of insight” that has been viewed 15 million times on TED.com. Dr. Jill rehearsed her presentation 200 times before she delivered it live. Practice relentlessly and internalize your content so that you can deliver the presentation as comfortably as having a conversation with a close friend.
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  5. Teach your audience something new. The human brain loves novelty. An unfamiliar, unusual, or unexpected element in a presentation jolts the audience out of their preconceived notions, and quickly gives them a new way of looking at the world. Robert Ballard is an explorer who discovered Titanic in 1985. He told me, “Your mission in any presentation is to inform, educate, and inspire. You can only inspire when you give people a new way of looking at the world in which they live.”
  6. Deliver jaw-dropping moments. The jaw-dropping moment—scientists call it an ‘emotionally competent stimulus’— is anything in a presentation that elicits a strong emotional response such as joy, fear, shock, or surprise. It grabs the listener’s attention and is remembered long after the presentation is over. In this column on how Bill Gates radically transformed his public-speaking skills, I demonstrate how Gates learned to incorporate a jaw-dropping moment into many of his public presentations, including his now famous TED talks.
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  8. Use humor without telling a joke. Humor lowers defenses, making your audience more receptive to your message. It also makes you seem more likable, and people are more willing to do business with or support someone they like. The funny thing about humor is that you don’t need to tell a joke to get a laugh. Educator Sir Ken Robinson educated and amused his audience in the most popular TED talk of all time: How Schools Kill Creativity. Robinson makes humorous, often self-deprecating, observations about his chosen field, education. “If you’re at a dinner party and you say you work in education—actually, you’re not often at dinner parties, frankly, if you work in education…” Robinson makes very strong, provocative observations about nurturing creativity in children, and he packages the material around humorous anecdotes and asides that endear him to the audience. Lighten up. Don’t take yourself (or your topic) too seriously.
  9. Stick to the 18-minute rule. A presentation should be no longer than 18 minutes. Eighteen minutes is the ideal length of time to get your point across. Researchers have discovered that “cognitive backlog,” too much information, prevents the successful transmission of ideas. TED curator Chris Anderson has been quoted as saying that 18 minutes is “long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.”
  10. Favor pictures over text. PowerPoint is not the enemy. Bullet points are. Some of the best presentations are designed in PowerPoint, there are no bullet points on the slides of the best presentations. There are pictures, animations, and limited amounts of text—but no slides cluttered with line after line of bullet points. This technique is called “picture superiority.” It simply means we are much more likely to recall an idea when a picture complements it.
  11. Stay in your lane. The most inspiring speakers are open, authentic, and, at times, vulnerable.

Make no mistake. Your ability to persuasively sell your ideas is the single greatest skill that will help you achieve your dreams. Follow these nine rules and you’ll astonish, electrify, and inspire your audiences.

Thank you to Carmine Gallo for this content.

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