BIG Presentation Secret No.5: Make complex things simple


So what’s this week’s secret?

This week’s BIG Presentation success secret is to make everything you present as simple as possible.

Why can’t we just tell it like it is?

If our BIG Presentation audience cannot understand what we are explaining, we can’t possibly expect them to agree with us and give us that big sale or order.

It’s so easy to assume that if we understand it, then surely our audience will be able to understand it too.

Our BIG Presentation might be made up of a mix of people from different areas of a business, backgrounds and expertise. To succeed, everyone has to understand our message – experts and novices alike.

Successful BIG Presentations succeed by making themselves as accessible as possible to everyone.

So how do we use this secret?

How do we identify the complex parts of our BIG Presentation?

The quickest, easiest (and most fun way) to identify complex parts of your BIG Presentation is to do the granny test.

Simply take each area of your BIG Presentation and ask ‘could my Grandmother understand this if I explained it to her?’.

If the answer is ‘no’ then we need to simplify the concept or idea that we are talking about into something much more accessible for our audience.

How do we make complex things simple?

Making complex things simple is all about explaining things using a format or example that our audience can easily relate to.

There are loads of ways we can do this, for example:

  • By turning a concept into a visual diagram
  • By using metaphors to compare the concept to something our audience understands
  • By using video and images to explain the concept
  • By breaking the concept down into smaller, more easily understood chunks.

If you’re not sure which one to use, try each of these methods in turn, and then run the granny test on it. If it passes the granny test, then it’s a keeper.

What if we can’t make it simple?

It’s hard to believe, but if you really cannot condense your complex concept into one of the formats above, handouts are the answer.

No BIG Presentation ever failed because the presenter stated that there was an accompanying handout for the audience to refer to, to ensure that they fully understood the concept being discussed.

Handouts can hold large amounts of information and are useful reference points for our audience to use once our BIG Presentation has finished.

TOP TIP: Don’t pass handouts to your audience just as you start speaking. Either pass them out a few minutes before your BIG Presentation or straight afterwards so that your audience are not distracted by rustling papers and the shiny new information in the handout!

Further reading:

Check out ‘the Diagrams Book – 50 ways to solve any problem visually’ by Kevin Duncan. It’s a handy pocket-sized guide on how best to use visual solutions in your presentations.

You can buy it here.

(And no, I’m not on commission!)

Next week’s secret…

Next week’s secret is the final one that is related to writing our BIG Presentation. The secret is to finish memorably so that your presentation is the one that your audience remembers in weeks, months and years to come!

Before then, have a think about the most memorable presentations that you have seen. What made them memorable What did they all have in common?