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



Keeping your Audience Listening

January 5, 2010

Letting the audience get ahead of you is one of the most common ways of killing a good presentation.  Not letting the audience get ahead of you is one of the main tenets of a good presentation.

Once your audience know what you are going to say next, there is a strong tendency for them to switch off and start thinking about other things.  They will get bored waiting for you to say it and get on to the next point.

There are many ways for an audience can get ahead of you, if you let them.  One of the most common ways is when you put up a slide with several bullet points on it and start working your way down the list.  Before you are even through the first sentence describing the first bullet point, they will have read the slide.  If the bullets are self explanatory, then they are ahead of you.  They will have caught the gist of what you are going to say and then have to wait for you to say it.  While they are waiting, their mind will wander and you will have to work much harder to recapture their attention.

Using the line by line reveal facility in PowerPoint, will reduce the scale of the problem but still does not cure it. If you bring up the bullet point first and then start talking about it, you have still let the audience get ahead of you, and you will be telling them what is effectively “old news” as they have already read the headline.

This problem often occurs because presenters use the PowerPoint slides to remind themselves of what they have to say. This means that they display the bullet points before they say the words. Their audience is then bored by what they say, as they have already read the slide and know in advance what the presenter is going to talk about. It is compounded by the fact that, having just read the words themselves, the presenter will invariable use exactly the same phraseology in their speech. It is no wonder many people switch off and fall asleep because the presenter is constantly telling them things that they already know, because they have just read it on the slide.

If you have to use bullet points on a slide, bring the points up, one by one, after you have talked about the subject. That way the slide reinforces what you have just said and the audience will not get ahead of you.  Better still, rather than displaying the bullet points, keep those for your own personal cue cards, which you can refer to during your presentation to ensure you don’t forget anything, and use PowerPoint (or which ever software product you prefer) for what it was really designed for, a graphical presentation tool. Have slides with pictures, images, or graphics which conjure up strong mental images of the topic you are discussing, images that will stay with your audience long after your words are forgotten. See the sections on visual aids and graphics for alternative suggestions and approaches.

Of course, handing out printed copies of the whole presentation before the event is another classic way of allowing the audience to get ahead of you. Have you ever looked at the audience during the first key note speech at a conference? Most of them will still be scanning through the handouts working out which presentations they think will be worth listening to, not paying the slightest attention to what the key note speaker is saying.

Do not get me wrong; I am still a firm believer in the ‘tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them’ approach to presentations.  But this does not mean letting your audience get ahead of you.  To keep an audience listening, you need to build in some suspense and tension just like in a television drama or a play.

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