SHARPening Your Presentation

We’ve talked about SHARPs before – an acronym that we teach at Decker Communications to get our listeners involved, and keep our message memorable. Stories, Humor, Analogies, References and Pictures/Visuals are anchors for the details, facts and figures of our presentation – they make our message relevant, entertaining, and memorable to our audience.

After conducting a Communicating for Leadership Program in Austin last weekend, I had the privilege to attend a presentation by the organization’s top executive. I was blown away by his use and variety of SHARPs, and the impact he had on the audience as a result. Here were the highlights and their benefits to the presentation:

1. iPod Prop. He effectively "french toasted" his speech (ala Kramer vs. ipod Kramer - beginning and ending with a similar scene) with a great visual by walking onto and off the stage listening to his iPod.

  • Contemporary and highly identifiable prop immediately engaged the audience.
  • Set the tone for the entire presentation, using it to tie all of his key points together.

2. Live Guest Interview. How ‘bout that? He actually had someone else come up and present with him. Building on the theme of iPod and iTunes, he called upon an “expert” in the field of music to talk about the rules and systems of music, and then applied them to his organization.

  • A change in the physical dynamics (an additional person on stage) created energy, excitement and anticipation.
  • The conversational, casual tone of two individuals talking with one another disarmed the audience and increased their openness to the speaker’s point of view.

3. Music Demo. To my surprise, the music guy was just as skillful at using SHARPs. He brought two additional people to the stage to demonstrate what he was talking about. Together they played various instruments to show how music can either result in exquisite harmony or cacophonous dissonance when played with or without the "rules."

  • The physical dynamics changed again, building even more energy.
  • The music provided an excellent example that underscored the key point.

4. Stories. He used personal and significant stories to support his point of view. Great presenters are great storytellers, and this was no exception.

  • Added humor and humanization to the speaker, and made him more identifiable to the audience.

Start thinking in SHARPS to create an impact on your audience. Plan them into your content and preparation in advance. Those are the things that will be remembered!

P.S. This “presentation” was a sermon, given by the Senior Pastor, Tim Hawks at Hill Country Bible Church. Tim is an excellent, inspiring presenter. You can find this sermon, as well as others on their website.

10 thoughts on “SHARPening Your Presentation
    Stories, Humor, Analogies, References and Pictures/Visuals — SHARPS — are anchors for the details, facts and figures of our presentation – they make our message relevant, entertaining, and memorable to our audience….

  2. I’ve often wondered if the acronym SHARP’s was inspired by a musician. I just saw SHARP’s again in a recent blog post and couldn’t delay asking.
    Musicians use and play sharps and flats. They are symbols that represent raising or lowering a note by a half step. Keyboard players like me readily associate sharps and flats with the black keys. Sharps in music look like the ‘#’ symbol. Flats look like a lower case ‘b.’
    I always add a few SHARP’s to spice up my presentations. SHARP’s prevent me from becoming “a flat” guy.

  3. Hi, the link to the sermon is broken. Any chance of putting an updated link to the specific sermon (not just the website) in the comments/reposting? Thanks again for great insights, Sean

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