At Haiku Deck, we’re all about helping you make presentations like an expert and, as part of that mission, we’re always searching for accomplished communicators and presenters from around the world. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Gina London, an Emmy winning former CNN correspondent and anchor who is now an internationally recognized communications strategist and consultant. Author, speaker and writer of the weekly business column, “The Communicator” in Ireland’s largest circulated newspaper, The Sunday Independent, Gina is a Director with Fuzion Communications and an American who now calls Ireland home. Here’s what she had to say about delivering your message like an expert:
What is something you learned as a CNN correspondent and anchor that helps you with your communication clients?
Above all, I know how to take any topic and break it down into a memorable story and deliver it confidently.
The rigor of CNN’s 24-hour news cycle made me extremely adept at crystalizing. This means more than oversimplifying, it’s the skill to be able to synthesize the main points of something complex.
Too often, business professionals “over-present.” Their audience is taken on a meandering brain dump of information overload that leaves them guessing at the presenter’s main point, or perhaps worse, inferring the take-away on their own.
To be an effective communicator in the business world, you must be able to strategize about the main point your particular audience needs to know and then connect on that.
If you had to name one thing that most communicators could do to improve the way their message lands, what would it be?
Hook any informational point to a human, emotional story.
I learned in CNN anchor training school – yes, there is such a thing – to remember that behind any story – no matter how seemingly dry – there are hopes, dreams or fears.
As a journalist, that didn’t mean to evoke or over dramatize, but to keep the real people in your audience top of mind.
In business, it’s the same. Until the robots take over, real human people are in the room with you as a presenter. So, I urge my executive clients to connect any point they want to make to a personal anecdote, illustration or example.
“Stories make messages stick” goes the cliché. But it’s true. Science shows that our brain lights up more receptors when we’re told stories that include additional sensory areas like descriptions of weather, feelings, vacations. Things we relate to on a human level.
When you give talks, what topics do you cover? (can you include links to any of your Haiku Decks for us to embed in the blog post?)
From Lagos, to London to Austin to Cairo, in addition to assisting my clients in crafting their own dynamic presentations, I speak at conferences all around the world on a wide-variety of communications and confidence topics.
I’ve presented on helping science and tech professionals connect with broader audiences to improving work-life balance, developing your professional and personal brand and taking control of your body language. Crisis communications. The power of story-telling. Employee engagement. How not to sound like a robot. If it has to do with communications, I’m there!
I like my slides to be enhance and embroider what I say. The themes of my images add another layer of interest to my talk. Here’s my deck that recently backed me up for a lively, interactive presentation before the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. You’ll see, I chose a lot of funny, vintage shots for this one.
Network Dublin Body Language Nov 2016 – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
But I don’t always. My recent work/life balance presentation used shots from Cirque du Soleil as I talked about how we can all learn to “juggle.” Get it? Ha. Never mind. I promise, it was a fun presentation too. Oh, and I actually juggled three oranges at the end of it. Really. And didn’t drop.
As a public speaker, what are three things you do to get ready for a successful presentation?
I use the “AIM” approach and coach my clients to do this too. AIM stands for Audience, Intent, Message.
First, really analyze who is in your audience. What are their hopes, dreams and fears? How can you best connect with them? Put them first! Then narrow your intent to a single action. What do you want your audience to really take away from your presentation? Too often, I find presenters don’t have this clearly defined and they try to do too much.
Finally, after deciding around points one and two, I craft a story to deliver a message that connects, captivates and is clear.
If you’re message isn’t memorable, then what was the point?
What’s your process for pulling a talk and accompanying slides together?
After I complete my AIM analysis, I think about the hook or the one or two stories I will weave throughout the presentation.
For instance, even if you’re going to be presenting a quarterly progress report, think about how much more fun – and therefore memorable – for your audience if you open with a personal or relatable story.
Like, you can’t believe you dinged your car over the weekend and how different the three estimates from three different mechanics were. Then you segue from that – to the different projections your company heard from various investors – or something like that.
Then at the close of your numbers report, you refer back to you opening anecdote and reveal to your audience how much your car repair is going to cost and which garage you chose. Or that you just bought a new car? Or something. This is called “the donut” approach to writing, and a simple, but useful device to retain your audience throughout a presentation.
People start to listen more and connect more because they can relate to the personal hook. Plus they’re shocked you’re not just jumping in with the typical “blah blah numbers, numbers.”
How did you first find out about Haiku Deck?
Great question. I found PowerPoint extremely difficult to use. There were too many choices and I was going bonkers trying to make my slides look professional.
I’m no graphics designer, but I knew that my arial font on a generic template looked icky. Everything was looking too ‘PowerPointy.’ Exasperated, I Googled “Alternative Presentation Platforms” and Eureka!
I’ve been Haiku Deck Pro going on three years now and have created nearly a hundred unique decks. I love it.
What reaction do you get from your audience when you speak at a conference or address a group? Do people notice your slides?
I am always noticed as one who stands out from the norm. The upbeat, fresh style of Haiku Deck matches my delivery style.
While I now have a graphics team I can farm things out to, I still make my own presentations because I don’t have to wait for the team to turn something around or try to imagine what look I’m going for. I can do it on my own more speedily – and still look like a graphics team did it!
The professional look combined with ease of use make Haiku Deck a game changer for me – and my clients.
How would you describe Haiku Deck to your clients?
I recommend Haiku Deck to all my clients. I tell them it’s super-easy to use and they will shake up their next employee or investor meeting or whatever in a way that is extremely positive. Every client who has tried Haiku Deck has thanked me.
What advice can you offer to Haiku Deck’s community as they think about their next public speaking engagement?
If you have taken the time to create a beautiful slide deck with Haiku Deck, you owe it to your audience to deliver in the same way. Practice out loud. Get off script. Tell stories to personally connect. Have fun! And get presentation coaching. Connect with me! Okay, I know. Shameless self promotion.
In short, Haiku Deck helps you “be the movie, not the book” – and that’s what all audiences hope they’ll receive when they sit down for a presentation.
Thanks, Gina, for taking the time to share your wisdom with our community! To learn more about using Haiku Deck to create expert presentations, visit www.haikudeck.com or download our free iOS app from the iTunes app store.