Save your audience from another dull presentation and increase their focus by building a presentation that answers their questions instead of smothering them with slides. Author Joey Asher explains how to create effective presentations built around real questions.
Most presentations are complicated messes. Listeners wonder "What are the key points?", "Why should I care?", "Why is this so complicated?" and "Do we have to look at that many slides?"
Presentations don't have to be complicated to be good. There is a simple approach to creating simple presentations that connect with the needs of any audience — and you won't need to create a single PowerPoint slide.
We call it "The Three Q Method." It works because it is built around your audience members' key questions about the topic. The only prop you'll need is a flip chart.
Start with What Your Audience Cares About
Ask yourself "What are the three questions my audience would ask me?" Most presentations stink because they fail to provide what most listeners want — answers to their key questions. The Three Q Method addresses this issue by focusing the presentation on three audience questions. Photo by Office Now.
Next time you have to create a presentation, don't go to your computer and open up PowerPoint. Instead, take out a blank sheet of paper and ask yourself "What are the three questions my audience would most likely ask me about this subject?"
Those three questions will become the basis of your presentation.
Delivering Your Three Q Presentation
Start your presentation by briefly describing your topic. Keep it to just a few sentences. Let's say that you're a PTA president introducing a plan to raise money for school renovations. Photo by Marco Bellucci.
I think we all agree that the school is in bad need of renovations. Today, we're going to talk about our plans to raise money to make sure that the school looks great for our children.
After introducing the topic, introduce the questions, writing them on a flip chart. Once you've given an overview of the topic, preview your presentation for your listeners by telling them the three questions you plan to address.
If I were you, I'd probably ask three questions.
- What are the capital improvement needs?
- How much money do we need to raise?
- How are we going to raise the money?
As you introduce the questions, write them on a flip chart. This gives the audience an easy way to follow your presentation.
Go back and answer the three questions. In the body of your presentation, answer the questions in as much or as little detail as you feel is necessary. Be sure to start each section by repeating the question. It's OK if this sounds redundant. The goal is clarity. Your listeners will appreciate how easy it is to follow you. Photo by Velkr0.
The best way to answer each question is to give a simple answer in the first sentence or two. Then elaborate as much as you'd like.
So let's talk about the first question: What are the capital improvement needs?
The biggest need is the athletic fields. I think we all agree that they're an embarrassment and don't provide the kind of sports experience that our kids deserve . We need new grandstands. We need a new scoreboard. We need a new locker room . . .
End by opening up the floor for questions. Everyone's favourite part of the presentation is the Q&A. It's where listeners can get their specific needs addressed. When you've finished answering the three key questions, take more from your audience.
You don't need lots of slides for a great presentation. All you need to do is answer your audience's key questions simply and clearly.
This article is excerpted from 15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations. In the book, author Joey Asher details how to create short, persuasive messages that connect with audiences. This short book covers such topics as how to create "rifle-shot" presentations, how to answer questions in a way that inspires confidence, how to develop your own leadership delivery style, and how to overcome a fear of public speaking. If you would like to preview the book, check out the free eBook How to Create a Seven Minute Rifle Shot Presentation.