Think back. Do you remember much from the last presentation you attended? Proposal you read? Virtual meeting you dialed into? If not, don’t panic…you’re not alone. Most of us don’t remember a whole lot of what is presented to us. And a common reason is that our presentations lack a BIG Idea.
So why do we sit through so many rudderless, meandering, meetings that lack a focus? The typical reason material passes in – and then out – of our brain, is that we receive an overabundance of ancillary information. There isn’t one clear idea marshaled from the beginning of the presentation right through to the end.
We Have Trouble Focusing
Many people believe that to look smart and well-prepared, you should show everything you’ve got. After all, we work hard to gather the facts and data that support whatever proposal, update, or recommendation we present. Sometimes, it’s harder to decide what NOT to include than what to put in. This is why slides get jam-packed with text, charts, and bullets.
So, what is the easiest way to prioritize information? You need to single out one idea that captures the essence of what your presentation is about.
Your BIG Idea is Your Through-Line
The first question you should ask yourself when planning a presentation is simple: what is my presentation about? Better yet, what is the essential point that I want my audience to take with them? And you should be able to capture this BIG Idea in about two sentences (made up of two parts):
- The WHAT
- The BENEFIT to your audience.
Here’s an example of a BIG Idea:
A new performance tracking dashboard will improve business results.
In this case, “a new performance tracking dashboard” is the WHAT we want our audience to know and “improve business results” is the BENEFIT. Since this idea is the single most important idea being presented, every other fact or piece of data included in deck should directly support it.
Your BIG Idea is the through-line to your presentation, which means you want to establish it early and continue to reinforce it throughout.
Your BIG Idea Should Address a Conflict Your Audience Cares About
Another helpful way to understand what differentiates your BIG Idea from any one of your other ideas, is that it must directly address whatever conflict you are introducing. In other words, the central issue your audience cares about (e.g. decreasing revenue, high turnover, low morale). Your BIG Idea is the overarching concept that will solve it.
It’s important to point out that if there is no clear conflict in your presentation, it is hard to develop a BIG Idea. Solving a conflict is absolutely key to getting anyone to care about your ideas. And if there is no conflict, ask yourself: is there a purpose to this presentation at all? If not, maybe reconsider the meeting!
Your BIG Idea is Always About THEM (Not You)
Finally, given that your BIG Idea is the all-important, ONE thing your audience should remember, it should be both audience-centric and conversational. It’s never about your product, your tagline, or your agenda.
Whatever type of business communication you are planning, developing your BIG Idea is a critical organizational mechanism that will focus and enshrine your message…which is the ultimate key to making it memorable.
If you want to learn more ways to share your ideas successfully, take a look at our corporate storytelling workshop.