These presentation skills can help your PR wins
By Dagmar King
You’re yawning through yet another boring presentation. Try as you might, you find it really difficult to focus and your mind starts to wander. The presenter seems to care more about what he or she is saying than about what his or her audience is absorbing.
The same might be said about how journalists and influential bloggers sometimes react to our communications. Our goal is to persuade them to cover our story, so we try to tailor our pitches to their beats. But are they paying attention? Does what we say stand out and resonate with them? If we get no response, then maybe not.
An aptly named book, “Resonate” (Nancy Duarte, 2010), shows presenters how to transform audiences – to persuade them to adopt new ways of thinking or doing. As PR pros, we’re essentially asking journalists and bloggers to do the same thing: to read (or hear) what we have to say, then reach out to us, and finally, to spend their limited time covering our story instead of someone else’s. Will they tune us out or will they believe that what we say will resonate with their own audiences?
Here are a few valuable tips adapted from the book that can help us be more successful:
Tune into the right frequency.
Like a successful presenter, we must tune our frequency to that of the minds of our audiences – not the other way around. Each journalist has a perspective. We need to find out what that is by following his or her articles, blogs and broadcasts so we can meet on common ground. We can also use a social media monitoring tool like Marketwire MAP to find industry forums and other social sites where our target audiences hang out so we can get greater insight into the issues that concern them.
Communicate from the overlap.
Once we understand our audience’s top values and concerns we’re able to communicate from that perspective. Our goal is to increase the amount of shared common ground, and that includes shared facts and emotions. Knowing how the journalists we’re trying to reach feel and think will help us communicate more empathetically with them.
Turn information into stories.
Information presented as just that is difficult to absorb. When we incorporate analogies, metaphors and personalization, suddenly the information has context. It becomes digestible. And when we turn it into a story with a beginning, middle and end, it becomes easy to grasp and memorable – sort of like this:
– Beginning: We start by saying “when” (in 2010), then transition (there was) to who/what (a vice president) and where (on the
– Middle: Then we move to the context (at the time, this was happening) and introduce conflict (we knew this couldn’t continue)
– End: Finally, we tell about the resolution (in the end) and lead to our most important point (the “big idea”).
Good presentations have an ebb and flow to them. They incorporate contrast to keep the audience leaning forward, waiting to hear how each new development resolves. In the story example above, the contrast is when we introduce conflict (“we knew this couldn’t continue”) after which we reveal how our solution resolved the issue. We can use the same technique in our outreach to journalists.
Articulate The Big Idea
A big idea must clearly state our unique point of view and convey what’s at stake. Before reaching out, it helps to articulate our main point in a complete sentence so when we weave it in our pitch we don’t forget to incorporate the key elements. For example, “Without more effective legislation, the destruction of the wetlands will cost the US economy $70 billion by 2025.” Stats lend credibility to our premise.
Include a Call to Action
After presenting our story and big idea, we need to ask for the action we want our audience to take. According to “Resonate,” there are four distinct types of people in an audience who are capable of taking action: doers, suppliers, influencers and innovators. If we consider journalists and bloggers “influencers,” we’re asking them to activate, adopt, empower or promote – in this case, our big idea. We must get across to them how our story affects their readers or listeners.
After a live presentation our messages being to fade, so we need to connect with our audience from time to time to remind them of the action we want them to take. As PR pros, we already know that media follow-up is crucial to success. We increase our chances of success, however, if we continue to communicate through a shared common ground and reiterate key points of our story, our big idea and our call to action.