Two Ways to Improve your Presentations

me giving a presentation in Spain. Fun time!In the last couple of days, I’ve been working on a new presentation that I’m giving up in Toronto for Future Tech Strategies for Libraries. I’m looking forward to it! I’ll be giving the presentation around the same time you’ll be reading this :-)

Over the years, I have given and attended a TON of presentations. Some I’ve learned from, some I’ve been entertained by, and some … honestly … have bored me to tears.

Here’s what I’ve learned – there are two things most of us could work on to raise the level of our presentations.

  1. Tell a story.
  2. End with Next Steps.

Let’s look a bit closer at each of these:

Tell a Story: We like stories. Heck, most of you work in libraries – places full of stories! Stories are good. One way to greatly improve your presentation is to treat your presentation like a story, or at least incorporate elements of a story into your presentation.

Why do this? Stories are easy to follow, and easy to remember. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, which works great for a presentation outline. Stories have chapters, which can be individual slides, or sections of your presentation, complete with visual queues and themes. Stories have pictures – so emphasize visual elements on your slides, rather than a wordy outline.

Here are some examples stories you might tell in your presentation:

  • The story of how your library improved something.
  • The story of what you do (your job, your coding, your new service).
  • The story of why your organization needs more funding.
  • The story of what’s on the horizon (emerging trends).
  • The story of … fill in the blank…

End with Next Steps: So many presentations just end. With an embarrassed “and that’s my last slide, so I guess I’m done.”

First things first – work on transitions and writing a good ending to the presentation. But even better – end with what’s next for your listener/participant/attendee. Here are some examples of next steps:

  • What can I do next week after hearing your presentation?
  • What can I do different or change?
  • What are three steps I can take tomorrow to improve something?
  • How should I respond to emerging trends?
  • etc.

See how that works? Share stories and next steps .. and immediately improve the quality of those presentations!

Content is Not About You. Ever.

I’m still focused on Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Great book! Go read it.

On page 101, Michael writes this:

“Unless you are a megacelebrity, readers don’t care about you. Not really. They care about themselves. They want to know what’s in it for them. Your personal stories can be a doorway to that, but in the end, the best posts are about your readers’ needs, fears, problems, or concerns. Always ask, “What’s the takeaway for my reader?”

Cool thought. Now apply it to your library’s website, and not just to blog posts. Think about your library’s About Us page, or a page about a specific library service.

Then, ask these questions:

  • What’s the takeaway for my reader?
  • Is there a clear next step for the reader?
  • Is the question “what do I do next” answered?
  • Is that next step at the top of the page, rather than at the end of a humongous chunk of text?

If your website is like mine, after answering those questions … you have a LOT of rewriting to do. Get busy!

image from Michael Hyatt’s website

Youtube – Calls to Action

next stepsStill reading the Youtube Creator Playbook … do you include a Call to Action in your videos?

Being successful in online video, especially in Youtube, includes being able to build community engagement and an audience (which is done through subscriptions to your Youtube account). There’s quite a lot of potential community engagement built right into Youtube. Things like comments, likes, favorites, sharing, and subscribing.

Not getting those? maybe you aren’t asking.

Which leads us to creating a Call to Action in your videos. You could also think of these as Next Steps. Basically, your goal should be to tell people watching the video what to do next – give them something to do (something that actually relates to your organization).

Here’s what Youtube suggests:

  • Decide what actions you want your viewers to take for each video.
  • Use Youtube annotations to ask, or have the host in the video ask for it (I’ll talk more about Youtube Annotations in a future video).
Two simple steps! Some Youtube-ish calls to action might include:
  • asking people to subscribe to your video channel
  • asking people to like or favorite the video
  • asking a question, and then asking them to answer it in the comments box
  • asking them to watch an older video (and providing a link to the video)

This works on your website, too. Embed your video in your website, then ask viewers to leave a comment on your organization’s blog. Or point out an organization-specific action, like checking out a book or registering for an event. You could include a link to the event in your blog post, on your website, or even in the Youtube description box.

Either way – don’t waste your time creating a video if you don’t have a next step or a call to action. Give your viewers at least one “what should I do next” instruction, and see what happens. They just might actually DO it.

So here’s YOUR next step – tell me what types of next steps might work well in a video for your library or organization in the comments. That’ll give readers a great list of ideas that they can use next time they create a video!

Next Steps pic from Bigstock