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Making Presentations Razor Sharp
The principle known as Occam’s Razor suggests that when faced with multiple explanations or solutions, the simplest one is usually the best choice. Looking for the straightforward approach and avoiding unnecessary complexity is what smart people do. This thinking can be applied to presentations to make them more powerful.
More than anything else, the best presentations in any arena have a single takeaway. This is the one thing everyone in the audience should remember from the talk.
Presentations that offer a flurry of ideas and recommendations are neither as memorable nor as impactful as those that shave everything away until only one core message stands in relief. By focusing on a primary takeaway or suggested action, the audience can find comfort in the simplicity of the message and the conviction of the presenter.
Presentations that offer multiple options, as opposed to a single recommendation or solution, sound more objective but fail to move people to action. Options are fine for discussions but should be avoided in presentations. Save alternate choices or approaches for the Question & Answer period after the presentation. But during the presentation, stick to the one choice you want people to accept, do or believe.
Preferring simplicity in speechmaking requires that presenters limit the number of supporting or related points to be made. Presenters often make a case with multiple points which overwhelm the audience and produce confusion, not clarity.
What sounds smart sometimes isn’t. To keep it simple and effective, fewer points are the preferred route.
It’s also a good idea to stick to only one metaphor in a presentation and to offer one hard-hitting example as opposed to many. Multiple metaphors and examples that are not spot-on interfere with how an audience responds to what is being said.
Simple means eliminating anything unnecessary, superfluous, or tangential to the main point or takeaway of the presentation. When everything said ties directly to the primary thrust of the presentation, the audience will find solace in the clarity and coherence created by the presenter. That’s why simple is always more persuasive.
Complexity is the enemy of a great presentation. Keeping it simple makes a presentation razor-sharp and memorable. In the words of William of Ockham, “It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.” When it comes to presentations, less is always more.