Lime and Rice
Full transcript of video 'Lime and Rice '
Presentation structure needs to be simple
If it is not simple the danger is you might start confusing your audience and possibly even more worrying, you might start confusing yourself as well.
So today I have a very simple little visual metaphor for you, just to show you how easy structure could, should and needs to be, for you to be an effective presenter.
So here we’ve got rice, lots of rice – these are the words, lots of words you could be using in your presentation.
Here are your three key messages that you want to put across in your presentation.
This is a ten minute speech and here is a half an hour, thirty minute speech.
Now there is the famous quote from Pascal:
‘Sorry I wrote you such a long letter, I did not have time to write a short letter.’
so to get things simple and neat is actually sometimes quite hard, but that is where we need to get to.
Now the typical problem we get – one of two extremes.
Either rigid over-preparation:
that is where you start sitting down with your slides and you start working out all the words;
you write down everything and you don’t have a clear idea of what you are going to do and you don’t have a flexible idea of what you are going to do.
I remember in one of the speaking clubs I used to work with, we used to have a gentleman there who used to write wonderful speeches. He was really good with words, he used to come up with magnificent images,
but he wrote his speeches out, quite literally - the written word and the spoken word aren’t always quite the same.
And what used to happen: he’d write out his speech.
He’d have ten minutes to deliver his speech and he’d probably write it, polish it, read it a few times next to a stopwatch and go:
Nine, nine and a half minutes, should be fine!’
So he would then turn up, starting to deliver his speech and out the words would come and they would flow absolutely beautifully and he would be filling up his glass, his ten minutes and then after about eight minutes he would suddenly look at the clock and he would go:
‘But I’ve got all these words still to say! I’ve run out of time.’
And because there was no flexibility – ie he had written out word for word for word in his presentation, he couldn’t just miss something out – all the words seemed to matter.
Even more tragically, in schools sometimes, when I was working in schools, very caring schools would sometimes prepare their students and say:
‘Next week - Public Speaking – think about what speech you might want to do at the end of the day’
and invariably I would get a young man or a young lady, who would come along at the beginning of the day with this three or four sheets of paper:
‘I’ve written my speech already, sir.’
And I’d go:
‘Wow! That looks fantastic. It also looks about ten minutes long. We’ve only got about two or three minutes to do the speech. Can you cut that down?’
And they are going:
‘Urgh…What page do you want me to rip out? It won’t make sense if I just take a bit out of the middle.’
And this was because they were focusing on words, words, words consecutively rather than their key ideas.
The other potential danger on the other extreme, which we’d often get and you’ll have probably seen this in presentations as well. These are people who say:
‘I like to wing it. I don’t like to prepare too much. I just like to wing it in a presentation.’
And the danger there is – these are usually people who are quite good at speaking - to be quite honest, - when I say speaking – speaking a lot!
And so off they go and start their presentation and they’ll be thinking about a few things mentioning a few staff and the long introduction and they ramble off into something else and – Oh Yeah – got to get one of my key messages in – and they keep on speaking and suddenly they are also running out of time –
‘Oh I haven’t covered my messages yet – and …. An onion?...I wasn’t expecting to talk about an onion
Look I have slightly gone off… if you’ve got any questions, come and ask me later.’
And I am sure you have seen presentations a little bit like that as well.
So – what I am asking you to do … is – you have a ten minute presentation, or a ten minute slot.
These are you three key ideas.
Do they fit into ten minutes?
Yeah – I think they fit in quite well into ten minutes.
so you build your speech around your ideas
That means, once you have got your ideas, you then start looking at a few words:
‘The purpose of today’s presentation, ladies and gentlemen is to give you an idea of who we are, what we do and why we do it…’
So this is ‘who we are’ – and I will surround that with a few words,
ie a few pictures, a few examples, a few stories that will characterise ‘who we are’.
This is ‘what we do’… and on you go.
And in each case, what it now means is, if I find I have used too many words for the first key point, I just haven’t got quite as much space for the rest, but I can still get my remaining messages in effectively.
Now if you have got a thirty minute speech, that does not mean you start to bring in lots of new ideas,
you still have got three basic fundamental ideas that you want to cover.
You’ve just got more space for examples, for stories, for words, for images to bring in.
That’s my introduction; my first point – little anecdote, personal story, some statistics, case study that I could use;
second point and on we go there as well
So the message therefore is
Make sure you have a clear idea of what your key points are
and then start building the words and the rest of the presentation around it.
Now just to finish off, take it to another extreme:
‘You’ve only go thirty seconds!’
And you are now thinking:
‘I can’t fit all that into thirty seconds!’
So you have one of two choices.
Either, you are now thinking:
‘Not a lot of room, so I am just going to take one key message and cover that in those few moments
you maybe start refining your key messages into… and I am now moving on from visual metaphor to visual pun now…
Can you get your ideas into a Nutshell!? – Get them nice and neat.
And this of course is what advertising slogans are doing and this is what political slogans are doing.
They are usually finding a nice, neat rhetorical phrase which sums up everything they want to say.
So presumably, once upon a time, Heinz wanted to say that we produce very good Baked Beans and we want to get this idea across that there has been a lot of tradition going in to it, a lot of quality, so that when people think about what the best beans are, they will always think about our beans.
Somebody come us with – do you know what:
‘Beans means Heinz’
Fantastic – that little phrase will now sum up everything that you want to say about Heinz Baked Beans.
So here, let’s imagine I have my three key points in three key nutshells.
I want to give a presentation, I want to tell you about my manufacturing company.
(i) I want to tell you something about the quality of the product that we produce, and therefore the machines and the research that has gone in to produce the very best products.
(ii) I’d like to tell you something about the staff that we have, our employees, we choose them very carefully. We make sure that they are the correct people, that they are properly trained and that they are tip-top at what they do and consequently
(iii) We now have a wonderful reputation, and most of the customers we have are long-standing customers that
always come back to us regularly.
Well – I cannot fit all that in to 30 seconds, but what I can say is:
‘The reason I think you should buy from our company is,
(i) we produce the best products,
(ii) we have the best employees in the country,
(iii) and therefore we have the happiest customers.’
I have got it down to three little neat phrases that I can use.
So – to sum up:
- Don’t get bogged down in words, words, words, words
- Think about your ideas. What are the key messages you want to put across?
- Can you even get those key messages down into short neat slogans or phrases that really sum up what you want to say.
So that in the end, a la Pascal
I am not going to write you a long letter,
I am not going to write you a short letter
what I am going to try to be able to do is be structured and flexible enough
that I can give you a letter that is just long enough for what we need to do today.