pSCORE Stage 1: Foundation
by Phil Waknell —
Business Presentation Revolution outlines the five stages of the Presentation SCORE Method, or pSCORE, giving you a simple, proven process to follow to prepare and deliver successful presentations every time.
In this extract from Business Presentation Revolution, author Phil Waknell outlines the vital first stage: Foundation.
If you build a house on sand, it will not be stable; likewise, if you start to prepare a presentation without understanding its context or its audience, you will be setting yourself up for failure. Even if you only spend a few minutes on your foundation, those will be the most important minutes you spend on your presentation.
By the end of the Foundation stage, you’ll have a clear transformational objective for your presentation and a good understanding of your audience, and you’ll be ready to begin thinking about what to say.
Start With ABC
The first step to reaching that point, though, is to forget about what you want to say. Put that to one side for now and focus on your audience, their burning needs and the context in which your presentation will happen – the ABC of presentation preparation:
- Audience: a clear and detailed understanding of the people who will watch and listen to your presentation.
- Burning needs: knowing what keeps these people awake at night, their problems and their objectives.
- Context: your context, the audience’s context and the context of the presentation itself.
By focusing on your audience right from the start, instead of on yourself, you are laying the foundation for a successful presentation. As much as possible, try not to think of your audience’s needs through the prism of your own situation. You’ll have plenty of time to think about your own objectives and messages later in the process.
Fixing the presentation problem and joining the Business Presentation Revolution does not only mean creating and delivering better presentations. It also means knowing when to present – and when not to.
Most presentations fail because they try to transmit information, which is more effectively achieved with a written document. We forget most of what we hear very quickly. Oral presentations (with or without slides) are fantastic for inspiring, motivating and transforming audiences, but using an oral presentation to share information is like using a colander to carry water. While it is good for some things, this is not one of them.
However, a presentation is an excellent way to change what people believe, feel and do. If you don’t change your audience in any way, then you’ve wasted your time – and, worse still, you’ve wasted theirs.
To set your transformational objectives, simply complete this sentence:
- “After this presentation, the audience will…”
Make sure the verb in the last part of the sentence is a ‘feeling’ or ‘doing’ verb. If you find yourself with the verb “know” (or something similar), ask yourself why they need to know this – and then complete the sentence again with the real objective.
The Foundation stage may not take long, but it is time too few presenters choose to spend. If you understand your audience, their burning needs and the context, and choose a few transformational objectives, then you are ready to start preparing your presentation. If not, you are shooting at an invisible target with both hands tied behind your back. Business productivity requires efficiency, but the Foundation stage is not a corner you can cut: it is the fastest path to success.
Find out more about the Foundation stage, and the four other stages of the pSCORE Method, in the book Business Presentation Revolution, published in July 2021. Get the overview free today, and discover a better way of presenting that your audiences will love.