The one way to create a presentation that resonates

If the name Simon Sinek resonates with you, you have probably either read his book “Start With Why” or watched his talk on the same topic, or both!

For those of you who are not familiar with Sinek’s golden circle, he theorises that the greatest communicators that the world has known have all had a single commonality in their approach to communication. This approach is what has made them icons of world history – from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Steve Jobs.

Often when we make presentations, we are inundated with facts, figures and messages that we need to deliver to the audience in a limited timeframe. So we immediately begin to structure our presentation around these facts: logically grouping, ordering and organising them for our audience to understand. But very often, the resulting presentations lack emotional value, and the fact is the same information could have as easily been presented on a website, brochure or video and consumed in an impersonal manner.

Presentations that have left an indelible mark on our hearts and minds lean on the strength of the emotions, beliefs and passion of the presenter. When a presenter shows us how the facts and figures are the results of a greater aspiration on the part of the organisation, it moves the audience. Who would not want to be a part of a movement that will transform history, industry or the lives of people? Facts and figures are merely testaments to the idea that a greater good is being achieved and it is now the audience’s chance to become a part of the movement.

In order to make presentations with emotional resonance, we need to return to Sinek’s Golden Circle. At the heart of the circle is the bold question – “WHY”. Taking the time to understand the purpose of the message behind the presentation gives us a direction and shapes our choices on how content should be delivered. For example, when Show & Tell was founded, its purpose was not to design pretty presentations; it was to uplift the standards of presentations and help individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses and organisations to get their messages across and to inspire their audiences to join them in their journey to greatness.

When we begin a presentation script or deck, the top of the page is often reserved for the question “why does this presentation matter to our audience?” If we do not have that question answered, we stop everything and brainstorm the answer. Although there may never be one right answer, the answer should always appeal to a higher purpose.

For example, the purpose of a presentation on doorknobs is not about selling doorknobs; it is about opening doors to new adventures or about protecting what you hold nearest and dearest to your heart. Let’s dissect this further. If we were to construct a presentation merely to sell doorknobs, the structure may be something like this:

  • What is a doorknob?
  • Why should you buy our doorknobs?
  • What are the doorknobs we sell and the individual features of these?
  • What achievements have our doorknobs received?
  • How can you buy our doorknobs?

However, if we were to take the latter purpose, the structure may look something like this:

  • Who depends on you for protection?
  • How can you protect your loved ones when they are vulnerable?
  • What should you look for in a doorknob to which you would trust your family’s protection?
  • Here are the doorknobs we sell

As I have written before, communication is the transference of emotion. When you stop selling mechanical metallic components and start selling the protection of loved ones, you cannot help but resonate with your audience. Of course, needless to say, you need to genuinely care for and believe in your products’ ability to safeguard your audience’s loved ones.

In the words of the man who inspired this post, always “start with why”!