September 6, 2016 / Esther Choy

“I had information I could have talked for hours about,” says Daniela Garza-Sokolowski, Director of Marketing at InnovaFlavors, as she reflects on a recent talk she gave. The only problem? She didn’t have hours to talk. She had a matter of minutes. Her five-to-ten minute talks were going to be scattered throughout a food tasting event.

Daniela’s industry swims with the many currents of food trends, each trend bringing with it examples just begging to be used in presentations like the one she was about to give. Yet she knew she could not let her audience drown in a sea of food-trend data. Nope, she would need to anchor the presentation to a main idea and jettison any and all data that did not add value.

And she wanted her talk to count. “Presenting is part of my job,” says Daniela. Confident, intelligent and comfortable in her own skin, Daniela enjoys giving presentations. But she wanted to take her presentation skills to the next level. She wanted people to walk away from her talk saying “WOW!”

At a short workshop Leadership Story Lab held, Daniela had seen tools that could help her. “I loved having new tools,” she says. She worked with Leadership Story Lab to add that “wow” factor.

She started with a draft she knew she could improve because she wasn’t happy with the flow or the visual appeal of the slides.

By the time she was ready to talk at InnovaFlavors’ tasting event, though, she had improved the flow by using one main idea and a few carefully chosen supporting points. To make her audience feel a personal connection with the flavors, she included stories.

And now, the flow was natural, the slides were visually appealing, and the overall effect was memorable—a well-crafted story about how companies could use new tools to find cutting-edge flavors and move forward with trends.

How did she get to this main story? “Being ruthless,” she says. She kept asking herself, “Does this need to be said?”

Having been ruthless in cutting out unnecessary data in order to wow her audience, Daniela offers the following advice so you can amaze audiences at your next presentation:

  • Consider your talk from the audience’s point of view. In Daniela’s case, she had to consider both the person who would draw a complete blank when she alluded to the flavor profiles of Filipino food and the person whose mouth was watering the second she mentioned it.
  • Less is more. At one point, Daniela’s talk included 27 slides. Her final had only 15, with fewer words but more images and good, focused keywords. The slides decreased in number but skyrocketed in quality.
  • Slow down.
  • Stick to one main idea.
  • Have a compelling story to go with your main idea.
  • Ask “what is the reason for this slide?” If you can’t think of a good reason, be ruthless! Get rid of it!

Need to take an upcoming talk to the next level? Drop us a line! We’d be glad to arrange a complimentary consultation session! And sign up for our Monthly Guide to Better Storytelling. It’s packed with information on free events, tips and coaching sessions.

Photo credit: Ernesto Andrade via Flickr

Esther Choy

Esther Choy founded Leadership Story Lab in 2010 to help others leverage the art of storytelling to create extraordinary opportunities.
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