Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Five Dimensions of Impactful Presentations

In a world of people with ever diminishing patience it is not enough to be brief and to the point. You must find a way to engage your audience on more than one dimension at a time. Dr. Andrew Abela summarized it well a few years back.

The Five Dimensions of Extreme Presentation

A central hypothesis at the heart of this research is that the Extreme Presentation must address five dimensions. These are Logic, Rhetoric, Graphics, Politics and Metrics. The problem with most approaches to presentation design, as I see it, is that they tend to focus on only one or two of these dimensions. So the current focus on using storytelling to improve presentations, for example, while a welcome and powerful idea, is misleading unless it is thoroughly integrated into the other dimensions.

Logic is about making sure that the problem is correctly defined and rigorously solved. Absolutely necessary, but not sufficient;
Rhetoric is the storytelling dimension: your audience usually contains human beings, not machines, so they need to receive your information in ways that are appealing to humans;
Graphics is the visual dimension;
Politics is the recognition that "power and politics are part of life in organizations everywhere" (Charles Handy, Inside Organizations, p. 115) and therefore that the best recommendations in the world will go nowhere unless their implications for all relevant stakeholders are thought through and syndicated in advance as far as possible; and
Metrics is the objective of the presentation and how you will measure its success.

So, in the world of the Power Point presentations we use to pitch angel investors we better look at each slide  five times and strive to have our message strike a bull's eye and be consistent in at lest three out of five dimensions.  If not, rework the message.

Marco Messina

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