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Use CPR to Make Your Presentations More Powerful
by Chris King

This is always a good time of year in which to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going. It is also the perfect opportunity to plan ways to infuse our presentations with extra “life.” So, let’s give them some CPR. C stands for Content; P stands for Performance; and R stands for Relationship. What do I mean? Read the article to find out.

C stands for Content. And “Content is King.” We have been hearing this more and more often as the Internet grows, but it also refers to our presentations. There was a time where a speaker could succeed with lots of motivational and inspirational stories, laced with a bit of content here and there. Those days are over — we are truly living in an “information age.” Audiences want to learn something new and to leave our presentations, not only motivated, but also wiser for having been there. So, it is up to us as speakers to keep up with our reading, our research, and the updating of our content.

What new information have you added recently? What new facts and statistics can you include in your next presentation? What new books and magazines are “hot?” Have you read them? We don’t want to give book reports, but we do need to be current. When adding content, we must also be careful about how we do it. Audience members today are in a hurry, so we must make a conscious effort not to drone on and on about a subject and/or fact, but give them lots of information in quick and understandable bytes. I notice more and more of my magazines offering sidebars filled with short, timely items presented in pithy paragraphs. Ask yourself how you can use this method in your presentations. Make your content interesting, exciting and memorable.

P stands for Performance. And our performance skills can make or break our presentations. As painful as it can be, see and hear yourself in action. How? Ask a friend or family member to videotape one of your presentations. With the digital equipment available today, this can be accomplished without being obvious to the audience. And then, in the quiet and solitude of your own home, watch the taping. We have to be critical, but not brutal, about what we see and hear. You may have picked up good and bad habits that you are completely unaware of. Take notes. Ask yourself what skills and habits are really working in your behalf, and which ones aren’t. What could you do to make your presentation more professional, more dramatic, more compelling, more meaningful, and more powerful? What parts are gaining the most attention and interaction from audience members? And, remembering the importance of content, we must listen to the way in which we are delivering our messages.

R stands for Relationship. Our relationship with our audience, the meeting planner, and everyone else involved with our presentation leaves the most lasting impression of all. If audience members feel that we care about them more than anything else — not how we are speaking, not what we are saying, not how we look, not how much we are going to be paid, and not whether or not we will be asked back — they will “sit up and take notice” and care about us. Audiences today will know immediately whether we are sincere or not. If they feel any trace of insincerity about us and our presentation, they will tune us out immediately.

Are you focused with all of your heart and attention on the people in your audience or are you more focused on yourself and how you are doing? Ask yourself during this CPR what you can do to forge a stronger bond with audience members. How about the meeting planner, the people who set up the room, the person who handles the sound system, and everyone else with whom you come into contact on the way to and from the presentation? The better people feel about you, the more readily they will warm up to your presentation.

So, use some CPR to bring your presentations back to life. Surprisingly, this will make you feel livelier too!

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