Anchor Your Presentation

July 9, 2014

(How to get the points you make in a presentation to stick.)


All too often the points people make in their presentations are forgotten. They waft away like flotsam on the ocean waves. Se
en but never remembered. To make them memorable you need to anchor them. Give your audience something to hold on
to, make them more permanent and make them more memorable.

How do you anchor an important point or message?

There are a number of different ways to anchor a point, luckily the majority all start with the letter A (as in Anchor). You can use any of the following to anchor a point:

  • Anecdote
  • Analogy
  • Acronym
  • Article
  • Activity
  • Alliteration


  • Quotation

Let’s take each of these in turn so that I can explain in more detail.


A relevant anecdote or story is a great way to enliven a point and makes it far more memorable. People listen to stories using a different part of their brain than when listening to facts and figures. It can also help put the point you are making into perspective. Customer case studies and personal examples are a great way to gain buy in to your presentation and the points that you are making.


When explaining a complex or abstract concept it is useful to come up with a simple analogy. One that I use when discussing good presentation structure is the analogy that a good presentation is like a well designed motorway, (see here for the explanation )


When you have a number of related points to make thinking up an acronym will make them more memorable. I use the acronym OSRAM, which stands for the 5 most important aspects of a presentation, Objective, Speaker, Room, Audience and Message. OSRAM is also the brand name for a make of light bulb, so by using OSRAM you can light up the room with your presentation.


More commonly refer to as a prop; an article is a great visual aid. Something the audience can see and feel. On my presentation training, I invariably have a light bulb as a prop to help reinforce my OSRAM acronym.


Confucius once said, “I hear – I forget, I see – I remember, I do – I understand”. By having an activity which the audience can participate in, that is relevant to your point, your audience will not only remember it for longer, they will also gain a better understanding. When a practical activity is impractical due to the size of your audience or nature of your talk, come up with an activity they can do in their heads. Make your audience think, rather than just sitting listening.


Alliterations work in a similar way to acronyms. The make it easier for people to remember. For example the key to a good presentation is practice, practice and practice.


Finally, a quotation can be used to anchor what you are saying. It adds weight to your argument because it is no longer just you who is saying it but some other respected person has said the same thing.


No doubt there are other ways in which you can anchor the points that you make. Let me know of any you have used.

The most important thing to take away is that if you want your presentation to remain in the conscious thoughts of your audience, you need to anchor the points that you make, otherwise the will quickly drift away over the horizon and be lost for ever.



Have fun presenting.

All the Best

Graham Young



January 4, 2010

Undoubtedly, the most important part of any presentation is the audience.  After all, without them you would just be standing talking to yourself, which is one of the first signs of madness.

The more you know about your audience the better.

  • How many people are you expecting?
  • How senior are they?  Is there a mixture?
  • Is there a predominance of men or women?
  • Are they management or workers?
  • What are they interested in?
  • Why have they turned up?
  • What are their objectives?
  • What’s in it for them?

Think about what they want to hear, not what you have to tell.

Think about why they are listening, not why you are talking.

Are there any particular people in the audience who are more important to you than the others are?  If so, make sure you give them lots of eye contact; it makes a difference, particularly with a smallish (up to 50 people) audience.

Try to talk to as many of the audience as you can beforehand, if you have the opportunity.  That way you will have a better understanding of what they already know and what they are hoping to find out.

Certainly, if this is a sales presentation to a new prospect for your company, my recommendation is not to give a presentation at your first meeting.  Arrange a pre-presentation meeting with one or two key contacts so you can discover as much as possible about their situation, their people and their needs, before you present.  That way, you can tailor your presentation to suit them.  Make the presentation more personal to the audience so that they become more involved.

If you are forced into giving a presentation at your first meeting and your main contact invites a few other people to sit in, make sure you know who they are and do not rely on your first impressions.

However, probably the most important thing to remember about your audience is that they want you to succeed.  It is rare in business to business presentations for you to have a hostile audience.  At a minimum, they have invested their time in being there to listen to you, and they may have invested in the cost of getting to the venue etc.  Even if they have a grudge against you, the fact that they have come to listen means that they may be open to resolving that grudge and will be keen to hear what you have to say.  In these situations, it really pays to know your audience and their expectations.  Be honest with them and do not skirt round the issue; address it head on.  But at the same time, avoid an argument with any one member of the audience.  If you argue with one, you will be perceived as arguing with everyone, and your presentation will fail.  It is better to keep arguments until after the presentation when you can talk one on one with your detractor.

Your audience want you to give a truly inspired presentation; they do not want to be bored to sleep.  So from the very start, they should be on your side and this is your opportunity not to lose them.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever

Attention Span

January 4, 2010

An audience’s level of attention varies as you go through a presentation.  Typically, it is high at the start and high when they realise you are coming to an end and lower in the middle.

It is amazing the effect the words “In summary” have on an audience, everyone who has been drifting off suddenly starts to pay attention because they think that by listening to the summary they will catch up on the essence of everything they have missed.

Allowing the audience is to get ahead of you by letting them anticipate what you are about to say next, will see the attention level dive. 

While it is almost impossible to keep the whole audience hanging on every single word you say, you can improve their attention rating by breaking the presentation up into separate pieces.  Each piece having a start, a middle and an end.  This has the effect of making a single presentation a series of mini presentations so the level of attention is raised at the start of each piece and at the end of each piece.  Overall, the result is a much higher level of attention.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


January 4, 2010

Animating the slides can make them stand out, but do not go overboard.  You do not want people watching the animation rather than listening to what you have to say.  If the animations have a purpose then I’m all for them.  They will make your visual aids more effective and more memorable.  But do not animate just for the sake of animation.

In particular, the repetitive use of the more flashy animations that are standard functionality of modern presentation software is more likely to irritate than enhance your presentation.  Each new slide, sliding in to view from a different direction, or each bullet point spiralling down to its position on the slide, adds nothing to the content and distracts people from what you are saying.

Just because the software provides the facility does not mean you need to keep using it! My particular pet hate in this area is the slide transitions provided by PowerPoint. “Appear” is just fine, you do not need any of the others.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


January 4, 2010

Assumptions are always dangerous, in life, in business and in presentations.  It is far better to find out the truth before hand than base your presentation on assumptions.

In technical presentations, in particular, do not assume that everyone in your audience will understand the technical terms, jargons and TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviation) that you may be tempted to use.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


January 4, 2010

An important rule of presenting is NEVER APOLOGISE.  In particular, do not start with an apology.  It is a very natural thing to do, because by apologising upfront you are diverting any potential criticism.  You are in effect saying sorry in case you do not give a great presentation.  If you apologise in advance for your material you are saying you did not give it the preparation time the audience deserve.

An apology at the start sets you off in a negative frame of mind, it has the reverse affect to the one that you want.  It saps your confidence and it saps the audience’s confidence in you.

The other reason never to apologise is that most of the audience will probably not have noticed.  Only you know what you were intending to say.  If you miss a bit out or repeat material the audience will never know that you did not mean to.

‘Apology is only egotism wrong side out. Nine times out of ten the first thing a man’s companion knows of his short-comings, is from his apology.’  Oliver Wendell Holmes

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever


January 4, 2010

Using analogies to clarify a point is a great idea as long as your audience will understand the analogy.  There is little point of using an analogy about driving a car if your audience are all under 17 or live in the Sahara Desert.  Ensure your analogy does not have any unfortunate side effects, which could also apply to your topic.

Presentation Training and Coaching is available from the author of this blog. Please visit my presentation training  website.

Give me a day and I’ll change your presentations, forever