To ensure a successful presentation every time, presenters should start by developing a clear, concise purpose statement. The purpose statement serves two important roles. It helps keep you focused and on track as you develop the presentation. It also helps your audience focused on your message from the get-go.
Before you present: Clarifying the purpose helps you avoid a data-dump. You will design your presentation with a focused viewpoint and avoid excess content. Because you are designing more efficiently, you save tons of time and energy.
As you present: By stating your presentation’s purpose in the first few minutes, you shape your audience’s expectations. You also make an overt commitment to achieving that purpose. This adds to your credibility as a speaker.
Here are a couple of examples:
- “The purpose of my presentation is to inform you of the new changes in our contract.”
- “My purpose today is to introduce the preliminary findings of our report.”
- “Today I will show you the 5 benefits of our new venture.”
Why Don’t More Presenters Do This?
I have three big guesses as to why more presenters don’t develop and use a clear, concise purpose statement.
1. The lure of PowerPoint. Even though using PowerPoint to organize a presentation almost guarantees a data dump-style presentation, many presenters have grown up thinking this is the only way.
I have nothing against using PowerPoint as a tool once you have clarified the presentation purpose. In fact, I suggest putting your purpose statement on the very first PowerPoint slide!
2. The belief that the audience already knows what you are going to say. Your audience may know the fuzzy parameters of your speech. It’s your job to shape their expectations toward what you want to say.
3. Ignorance. Many presenters simply have never considered the importance of using a presentation purpose statement to guide their process.
Where to Start
The best way to develop your purpose statement is to start with this bare-bones template:
“The purpose of my presentation is to:
(2) audience (you can say “you” here)
Examples #1 and #2 above follow this template. Example #3 throws in a little “what’s in it for you” statement. All are effective.
My Challenge to You
Try it out! Create a purpose statement for your very next presentation. If you already have a presentation that lacks a purpose statement, develop one NOW and use it the next time you present.
You will find yourself and your audience more focused on the message. Let me know how it goes!