One core message… and the elephant

by Oliver Adria on 16/03/2009

elephant_whats_your_point Often enough I will see a presentation where on the 3rd or 4th slide I will see a table of contents with 6 or 7 bullet points and I think to myself: “Sigh, I hope I can stay awake”. People will try to cram as much information as possible into a presentation, the problem is, the listener will probably remember only a little bit of it. If the presenter has 6-7 equal points that he or she wants to talk about, I will most likely remember 1 or 2 points only. And every other listener will probably remember different points.

The elephant analogy

To use an analogy (yes, I like analogies!): It’s like the presenter is telling people about an elephant by describing the legs, the ears, the tail, the trunk, the teeth and its grey color. And guess what: Every listener will remember different things. One person might remember those big ears, another person might remember those strong legs, and yet another person might remember those sharp and dangerous teeth.

The solution? Instead of talking about 5 or more equal points, try to figure out one core message and make that the center of attention. Instead of talking about the different body parts, talk about the elephant as being a strong, amazing creature that can survive in so many different conditions. Then you mention that the strong legs are part of why they are strong and amazing. Then you continue to tell the listener about how the teeth make it even more so. All the people will then remember the core message: The elephant is a strong, amazing creature. Each of the listeners might remember different characteristics that make it so, but they will leave the presentation remembering the main message.

So, next time you create a presentation, try to figure out that one core message you want to communicate to the audience and base your whole presentation around it.


ReThink Presentation Design – the slideshow

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