The bad news for anyone delivering a presentation is that in spite of all your preparation and practice – most of what you say will go fluttering out of the minds of your audience like September breezes that blow across the vineyards here in Tuscany.
A 2012 research report discovered that immediately after a 10-minute presentation, listeners only remembered 50% of what was said. By the next day it had dropped to 25%, and a week later it was only 10%.
What does this mean to you? Take a sales presentation. Your audience is not likely to decide immediately after you are finished. A week or even longer, they may call you with their answer. It’s critical, therefore, to consider that by this time, they will have retained only an impression of what you said, not specific details.
To ensure your main point is remembered, here are five tips in the form of a memory-sticking acronym “SAVER” – as in “Presentation Saver!” — borrowed liberally from Sales Performance Trainer Jack Malcolm.
STORIES: A story is the best way to reinforce a point. Since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories is our most fundamental way to communicate. Because they’re so powerful, make sure your stories connect back to your message and aren’t simply random fun stories. Please see my previous post dedicated to the power of storytelling.
ACRONYMS. As annoyingly trite as it has become (at least to me!), all of us are likely familiar with the acronym, “KISS” – Keep It Simple, Stupid! Originated by the Navy in 1960, it still works as a great reminder for us to break down any complex message into its most basic points. Other mnemonic devices – like rhymes, short poems or songs are also useful. If you are good at word games, you may be able to create an acronym to assist you.
VISUALS: Another great mnemonic device are visuals! We are all visual learners. An image stays in our minds longer than a simple verbal description. Use your PowerPoint or even props, to illustrate your points.
EXAMPLES: When a story isn’t enough. Cite examples to demonstrate what you’re talking about. Make sure they are real and relevant. Don’t always connect them to yourself, but make sure they relate to your audience.
REPETITION: I can’t say this one enough. Ha. Get it? No, Seriously. Here’s Winston Churchill: “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time—a tremendous whack.” This is excellent advice, but even though he said “don’t be clever”, he was. Each repetition of his admonition is slightly different so it didn’t become laborious.
As you outline your presentation, incorporate as many of these tools as you can. Don’t let your message float away with the wind.