We’ve all daydreamed about how we’d react if the undead began rise from their graves and the zombie apocalypse commenced. It would take quick thinking, careful planning and grace under pressure. Oddly enough, these are the same principles it takes to craft an effective presentation.
This post originally appeared on Master Presenting.
We talk about what we would do to survive if the zombie apocalypse broke out.
It all boils down to the essentials, and these essentials are the same when it comes to presenting. If you get these wrong, it’s your audience that become members of the undead, growling and snarling.
Have Your Endgame Decided
You know who gets whacked early in the zombie apocalypse? It’s people who can’t make a decision. They wander off. They meander. Their sense of urgency is diluted in panic. They try to grab too much stuff and it’s too late — zombie chow.
When you present, you want to have the objectives of your content to be clear. What do you want your listeners to know at the end of your presentation? Aim towards that.
Write that first and shape your presentation around those goals. Otherwise you talk about too much and the eyes of your audience glaze over — zombie chow.
Be Clear And Absolutely Kill What Is Vague
When you have your presentation done, you need to sharpen that machete and hack away anything that is getting away from your key points. Yep, you have that cute, cute story about your puppy and the circus that he turned your house into this morning. Hilarious.
Sorry, but Bosco the puppy doesn’t belong in your presentation if it doesn’t accomplish your goals.
If you hesitate to swing that machete and aim for the head, it’s going to be over for you. People don’t watch your presentation for fluff. They watch it to know and feel. Make sure that everything you have aims towards your points. Those asides might be cute, they might be funny, but if they detract from your message, you’re going to be backed into a corner with no way out.
Hack away the fluff. You’ll be a more powerful presenter.
Have The Necessary Tools For Those Emergencies
Sometimes that door you’re going for is locked. The window is too high. The car is out of gas and you can hear the zombies growling. In the presenting world, sometimes the projector is faulty or your computer isn’t compatible. You forgot the thing that connects your computer to their projector.
When you are going to present, make sure you bring spares of everything. Have your emergency kit prepped. Here’s what I personally do:
- Upload your presentation to Dropbox in Keynote and Powerpoint.
- Upload your handouts as well and have everything on a flash drive. If you are printing handouts, print 20% extra.
- Bring multiple connectors to connect your computer to the projector. (And ask what exactly you need before you present.)
- If you plan on using a whiteboard, pack your own dry-erase markers. (The last person may have ruined them.)
- There is good chance they might cut your time to speak. Can you make your presentation 30 minutes instead of 45? Maybe it’s the opposite — they need you to talk a little longer. The next speaker is late. Can you lengthen the presentation?
Being prepared for these emergencies will help calm your nerves as you approach the stage. There may be something you didn’t prepare for, but having the above locked down will help you manage whatever snag you come across.
Create A Sense Of Community
An axiom I’ve learned from my Walking Dead binging has been: “Stray from the pack, you become a snack.” In other words, you want to gather people together.
One strategy I implement is when I’m finished presenting I offer up a follow up somewhere — live or online. We can meet at a pub after the conference and I can talk about the topic I presented on or we can chat about other topics. If I can’t do that, I’ll offer a Google hangout. This way I can gauge my true fans who want more information and possibly my services.
If you don’t gather this community, these true believers, you are going to be alone in the forest, my friend.
And if you’re wondering where you should go in the zombie apocalypse — the answer is the motor registry. I guarantee that place will be empty. Who wants to be there — ever?
Present Like a Zombie Slayer [Master Presenting]
Ryan McRae is the founder of Master Presenting, a blog dedicated to creating courageous presenters. He has spoken all over the world, including Afghanistan. He is an Apple fanatic, voracious reader and lover of things pumpkin flavoured. He can be reached at [email protected]