How to present your message in a smart way?

Many presentations miss their target, because they do not succeed in conveying the message clearly. Kevin has invited expert Harald Dumoulin from SmartPresentations with the question: how do you present your message in a smart way?

Kevin Van der Straeten
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Many presentations miss their target, because they do not succeed in conveying the message clearly. I have invited expert Harald Dumoulin with the question: how do you present your message in a smart way?


Hi Harald, welcome to our studio.


Thank you, welcome.


We're going to talk about presentations. And one of the big problems with presentations, is lots of presenters don't succeed in bringing over their message to their audience.




How come?


The biggest problem in presentations is that people first start with starting up their program PowerPoint. Or they use another program to use to present.


And start creating slides.


They start to create slides.

Instead of thinking about: what is the message that they want to bring? So that's the first...

The first message that I want to give is: when you have a presentation, start thinking about: what is it that I want to achieve? What's my goal to achieve with the audience? What's the message that I want to give? When you've got your message, you create your story. And only when you have your story, then you start with creating your slides, your presentation.


The funny thing is almost all presentations start with: this is the history of our company.


When we look at company presentations, the biggest mistake that we see is that they start with, like you said, with the history of the company.

No-one, nobody comes to listen to a company presentation, to hear about the history of the company. You can use the history of the company in your presentation. To show that you have credibility. With the products that you create and the services that you offer. But you don't start with it.

People have a very high point of interest at the beginning of a presentation. They are anxious. They are curious to know what you are going to tell or teach them. You have to live up to that curiosity. You have to answer to that. So, you have to start with a very strong message. And a strong message, in a company presentation, is always: what are we going to do together? What is the goal, of us, together, that we want to reach? It's not the history of a company. So, start with a strong message. And then start to explain how you are going to do that. What's the method that you are using? What are your capabilities? Et cetera, et cetera. But start with a strong message. It gives the audience an overview of what you want to reach, what your goals are. And then you can talk about other small things in your presentation.


Okay, you have your message, know what you want to tell. Can I then start with the presentation? Or is it still too soon?


That's still too soon. Like I always say: there are three secrets in a very good presentation. And the first one is the story, like we just talked about. So, your story is your most important asset in your presentation.

Second, look at: how are you going to design your presentation? What kind of images are you going to use? What kind of icons, graphical elements are you going to use? Am I going to use the first images you see when you type in a certain word in Google? Or am I going to look a bit further? Do we have our own images within our company? So, how is this going to look?

And only then you can go and start your presentations.

And the things that people like to do most of all, in the beginning of a presentation, is using a lot of wrong animations and slide transitions. That's the thing you do at the very last point.


And probably with sounds.


That's what you do at the very last point. If you've got still some time left, then you add some animations and slide transitions to your presentation. But you start with your story, then you make it look nice and then you create your slides.


There's something I wonder always. If you want to make a brochure or a flyer for a company, we hire a professional designer. Why don't we do that with slides?


Yes, we seem to forget that a presentation...

When we have to give a presentation, we dress up. We make ourselves look very nice. But we forget that the first impression isn't only by the way we look. But it's only by what kind of materials am I going to use in my presentation or in my...


Yes, first slide: an image with a watermark on it or something.


Or a wrong logo. Or something that isn't right. And that also creates the first impression. So, make that first impression count and use a good presentation.

And like I said: the first thing is the story. That's kind of marketing. You need to be able to tell the story right. The graphic design is the art of a graphic designer. They learn to do that. And that makes a presentation look so much better. And stand out of the rest. It helps.

A good graphical presentation doesn't only help, that the people, your audience understands better what you are telling, but it helps them also to remember that, afterwards. So, it has a double effect, by having a good graphical, nice presentation.


But the pity is, if you look at some large congresses or conferences, they put a lot of effort in the event and then on stage, you see slides where you think: oh my god.

Where that should, in my opinion, but maybe I'm wrong in that, I would expect to see the same visual language throughout the whole conference.


That's absolutely what we want to achieve and that's the message that you want to give to event organizers. When you have an event and you've got a certain team, make sure that your organization is as qualitative as you can possibly do.

But the information transition, people standing on a stage, giving information to the audience, make that as good as possible as well. And make it look like it's one thing. So, the theme of your event, also needs to be within your slides. And then you've an event that's complete and that looks like a whole.


But then the difficult part is to convince the speakers to adjust their slides to the same theme.


We try to look to the event organizer, and that can be an external company, or it can be an internal function in a company, we try to look at them to involve us, as soon as possible, within the organization of a presentation.

We see that the speaker...

There's a difference between a speaker, that tells the same story for the tenth or twentieth time, or there's a speaker, who needs to tell...

Sometimes a product manager, who has a new product that he wants to introduce to his audience He isn't that, he doesn't have that much experience in presenting for a bigger audience. And it's people like that, that we really can help in creating a far better story. And they need to begin with creating their story a month in advance, before the event. And then we can create a story that suits them, because you need to be able to tell the story as well as you possibly can, personal, but also looks nice on the slides.


That's interesting, that you say: a month upfront. Because most product managers I know, make the presentation the evening before.


I'm talking about the ideal situation, right now. We're working for a long time, already, in the event world. And we see that we need to have some flexibility.

But when we can prepare a slide, a bit of advanced, and we can be present at the rehearsal of the event, to adjust the last-minute adjustments in the presentation.

And it also happens that we are present at the day of congress or the event itself. To even adjust some slides at the very last minute.


And why should you do that? So last-minute?


It happens that you are someone, who has to do the closing of an event. When you do the closing, you need to look at everything that happened during the congress. So, maybe you want to adjust your story a bit there.

Sometimes, technically, you have to adjust some things, to do the other things right. We always make sure that there is a computer, that we bring. That everything works. What we see, nowadays, are a lot of animations, movies, in presentations. We make sure that it works. We make sure that it...


That there's no chat software popping up, during the presentation.


Right, things like that, things like that. So that everything works. And if there's something that needs to be adjusted, we are able to do that at that point. 


Okay Harald, thank you very much for coming over.


My pleasure, thank you.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next time.