Recently, I attended a lunchtime training session on Effective Presentations at the fabulous Olympic Studios in Barnes. While jotting down the helpful tips the speakers provided, I was reminded that some of the same advice applies to developing a persuasive piece of writing. Logical, I suppose, as developing content to be delivered to an audience whether verbally or in writing requires some thoughtful preparation. So, here are some presentation tips that work for writing too -
Know your audience
Peter Mather of BP Europe spoke about preparing content for a presentation and Amanda Cropper from the Polka Theatre offered practical tips for powerful delivery of a presentation. Peter’s first tip was to know your audience. So, for a live presentation, he recommended researching how many people will be at your event, who will be in your audience and why they’re attending. Knowing your audience is equally important when writing marketing materials. Researching your target’s environment and motivations will make all the difference in persuading them to read your messages.
Tell a story
Another tip Peter gave was to tell a story. In a live presentation, this means building a structure around the beginning, middle and end of your talk and focusing on just three or four points for your audience to remember. Peter also recommended illustrating your points with personal stories. Similarly, when writing a marketing piece, it’s helpful to deliver only two to three key points. Including your personality in a letter or email will help your audience connect with you when you’re not there in person.
Stick to the point
When delivering a presentation, Peter reminded us to stick to the point. Eliminate extraneous facts or arguments to reduce the chances of distracting your audience. This reminder is helpful for writing marketing materials as well because readers need to be captured in the first few sentences or else they will move on to reading something else.
Lastly, Peter encouraged presenters to try to enjoy the experience. If you’re authentic and show that you believe in what you’re saying, your audience will be engaged in your talk. Enjoy yourself and your audience will be more likely to enjoy themselves. Similarly when writing, it’s effective to demonstrate enthusiasm for what you’re announcing. If you truly believe that what you’re selling will benefit your audience, this message will come through.
Bring the right person into the room
Amanda focused very much on the physical preparations for speaking to a live audience. She suggested ways to relax and anchor yourself to the ground when standing in front of an audience. Practicing deep breathing is another way to deliver a powerful speech and Amanda spoke about rehearsing to reduce any nervousness. But the advice that Amanda gave that resonated most with me as far as writing was to ‘bring the right person into the room.’ She recommended deciding in advance who you want to be during the presentation, how you want to portray yourself. I think this applies to writing a marketing piece even more because you need to represent yourself through words only, without any visual cues to demonstrate your professionalism or other benefits of your business. So I’d recommend as well deciding who you want to be before you start writing about yourself and your company.
Fundraising for a good cause
Many thanks to both speakers for this valuable session. The training was organized as a fundraiser for the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon, offering world-class theatre for children. Check out their performances and creative, community programmes. It was especially nice to help a worthy cause while gaining valuable business skills!