There are simple techniques that can lift your presentations to another level while keeping your audience continuously engaged.
One such powerful tool can be the Linkage you use to connect between blocks of information such that one falls logically and in an interesting way into the next.
When creating presentations, people tend to gather the most important information – facts, charts, benefits, bullets – and dump it all into PowerPoint slides without worrying too much about how all this information is connected, if at all.
This common issue occurs at all levels of a presentation, but if you deal with it at two levels – the Outline and the Slide levels – you’ll be surprised by how much better your presentations will flow:
As we’ve discussed in the past (A Quick Guide on Creating a PowerPoint Presentation), the Outline defines the main blocks of information being conveyed by the presentation: we can call these the Introduction, the Slogan, (a few) Chapters and a Closing.
If your Outline is solid, it means you’ve created strong and effective Linkages between each of your information blocks.
For example: if Chapter 1 describes a problem currently plaguing your audience – let’s say this is doing sales projections manually – then a well-linked Chapter 2 can propose a solution to that problem. So, the Linkage between chapters 1 and 2 would be something like this:
“This is the challenge that all companies in your industry face today. Imagine if there were a solution that would not only deal with this challenge and solve the problem but also act as a motivator for your sales force. Let’s see how that would work.” (Go to Chapter 2 – The Solution)
By creating effective Linkages, you don’t let the attention of your audience wander off-point. Instead, you’re creating anticipation and helping the audience to comprehend the logic of the sequence(s) you’re using.
There must be a reason, a good one, for any one slide to follow another. That reason is the Linkage, whether it’s expressed or implied.
Slide Linkage usually occurs at the end of a slide and creates a need for the slide that follows. Very often you can frame the linking element as a question that piques interest and holds audience attention. Some typical examples:
. “This is our promise, but how do we deliver on it?” (Click to next slide)
. “By investing this way, these are the returns we have consistently achieved.” (Click to a chart)
. “In order to deliver this solution flawlessly, what structure is needed?” (Click to an Org Chart)
. “The reason this product works so well is …” (Click to next slide).
Multiple Benefits of Paying Attention to Linkage
Looking to create strong Linkage throughout a presentation will force you to create connections between Slides and Chapters that can result in unrelated advantages:
. The analytical process involved in creating strong Linkage will test your script. If there are elements in the script that are hard or awkward to connect – a bad sign – then most likely there is a structural flaw in the presentation – a lack of logic, a misplaced element – that needs to be fixed.
. Having to create sound Linkages will keep you from introducing a concept that’s somehow foreign either to an element of the presentation or to the presentation as a whole.
. Assessing which is the best Linkage for a spot will help you to judge the relevance of what comes before and after that spot.
. Smart Linkage keeps an audience engaged.
All of the above make delivering a presentation much easier and make the presentation itself more effective than if you pay little or no attention to how the slides (and your concepts) are connected, if at all, and whether they all follow organically.
Try it and let us know how you make out!