In any type of presentation, there is an overall goal involving what is being taught.
For the sake of this BLArticle®, let’s refer to this as “the big picture.” In one sentence, this is a clear explanation of what it is you’ll be talking about and what you really want others to get out of your message. It might be one of the most important parts of any presentation… and the most forgotten.
Imagine following a navigator as you’re driving to a location you’ve never been to before. You’re being given meticulous street-by-street, and turn-by-turn directions. So far, so good! But also imagine you are following these directions without the benefit of actually knowing the address you are traveling to. All you get is a navigator politely telling you to turn right or left. It makes you a little squeamish just hearing about that, doesn’t it? That’s because you’re missing the big picture connected to these directions.
Now imagine you are listening to someone speak about an idea or topic that you know little about, and you’re getting plenty of information, idea-by-idea, and fact-by-fact. Now, also imagine you are receiving this information without the benefit of understanding the big picture connected to this information. I’m sure it would make you a little frustrated… particularly if you got confused along the way and got lost. The real irony here is it would actually be less maddening if people knew they were lost! Therein lies the problem, and begs the question:
“If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know if you’re lost?”
Without a sense of the big picture, or the goal of your presentation, those in your audience may experience the same kind of confusion and paranoia. Now, with the increase of virtual communication, the battle to sustain interest has never been more challenging. Many cannot maintain a high level of concentration for long periods of time, and this problem only gets worse if the people listening aren’t sure or don’t know the big picture of your message. When this happens, they don’t complain, or raise a hand, or ask a question. Instead, they tend to lose their focus and check out.
Strangely enough, we tend to provide topic-by-topic content overviews, but rarely big picture overviews. Again, this provides turn-by-turn directions without telling anyone where they’re actually going. Here’s an example:
- “It’s a pleasure being with you! I want to talk to you about how to assemble content, who to deliver it to, and how to adapt to a virtual delivery if needed.”
Not bad, but watch what happens when we add the big picture:
- “It’s a pleasure being with you! The goal for today is simple; we’re going focus on putting on powerful presentations. Specifically, we’ll talk about how to assemble content, who to deliver it to, and how to adapt to a virtual delivery if needed.”
This may not look like a major change, but that particular adjustment, delivered in the beginning of your conversation, can significantly improve the impact of your message. You don’t have to be a presenter for this to be relevant. When you are selling, or interviewing, or simply trying to get a detailed message delivered one-on-one, you want to make it easy to understand, and allowing other to see the big picture will do just that. Keep it short and to the point, and you’ll not only help those who are listening to stay focused, you’ll help maximize the impact of your message.