All hail the weather presenters (pun intended)

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 by Simon Morton

There’s no doubt us Brits are a little obsessed with the weather.  From slavishly watching reports on impending snow-based gridlock to the fervent prayers for a summer with at least some sun, we’re hooked.

This puts the lowly weather presenter under a lot of pressure.  They need to clearly and succinctly share a lot of potentially technical information with their audience.  Their audience will all have slightly different agendas/interests depending on where they live or their travel plans.  Oh, and they need to do this day in, day out (on the hour in the mornings!) so keeping it fresh and engaging is also important.

A tough gig for any presenter…so how do they do it?

Spookily they rely on the 3 key facets of effective presenting that form the basis of our Presentation Optimisation methodology:

  • A clear message
  • The right content
  • Powerful and valuable visuals

Each and every weather forecast starts and finishes with the big message – it’s either going to be rainy, sunny, changeable…  Whatever the forecast, the message is delivered in such a way that the audience knows how exactly the weather is going to impact them (and whether packing an umbrella will prove to be a good idea).

That message is then supported by a level of content that demonstrates how and why the weather is behaving in a particular way.  As an audience, we nod sagely at talk of high pressures coming in from the east but the truth is that this content is shared to merely back up the important message (in the case of the UK, it’s going to rain).  Adding extraneous content merely gets in the way and runs the risk of confusing the message.

To push it over the line, TV presenters use visuals to demonstrate the key message.

The presentation genius of the weather guys and gals is here for all to see – rather than overly complex graphics of isobars and other meteorological clutter, they use simple icons* to help deliver the overarching message – it’s going to rain, don’t forget your umbrella. Visually, less is more when delivering a simple message.

Now apply this thinking to your business presentation…

Do you have a clear message?  Are you running the risk of confusing or reducing the impact of the message by cluttering up the presentation with content you simply don’t need?  Are your visuals helping you clearly deliver on your message or there to justify your content (hint – it should be the former).

Get this right and you’re on the road to what we call Presentation Optimisation…and a more engaged informed audience.

* It’s interesting to note that the BBC received a lot of grumpy letters and e-mails a few years ago when they moved away from their super simple weather icons to a more animated version.  If the animation is getting in the way of delivering a clear message (a la over engineered PowerPoint, Keynote and Prezi presentations), you run the risk of terminally confusing your audience.

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One Response to “All hail the weather presenters (pun intended)”

  1. Miguel.M says:

    Great and “on the spot” analogy.
    Regarding the first paragraph, accept the sympathies of a midweight powerpointer,
    living in the european country with more sun hours per year. 😉

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