Approaches and Techniques for Winning Presentations in a New Age:
Structuring presentation—Effective presenters provide road maps for their speech. They design and present interactive presentations that engage the audience by raising their curiosity and are relevant to audience needs. There’s an “attention grabber” for the opening, a preview of what is ahead and three or four chunks of information that make-up the body of the presentation, and a closing that summarizes important content, information and key messages. Many closings let participants know where they have been and “wave the flag” and passionately call for action.
- Repetition and restatement of critical information and the significant overriding goal (SOG) for the presentation. Effective lectures use multiple and clear examples to illustrate the critical information. They keep the learning goal “top of the mind” and provide clear and concise information. Effective presenters always try to see their message from the audience point of view. A technique, which helps, is to ask—What is in it for the audience to pay attention and how can they use this information back home to make their worklife more fulfilling and satisfying?
- Make the presentation appear to be interactive, engaging and a conversation not a one-way monologue.
- Provide individual reflection/think time, encourage pairing-up with another participants to exchange ideas and then share perceptions with larger audience
- Ask rhetorical questions
- Survey the audience with powerful trigger questions
- Provide a partial outline of the lecture to help align audience thinking and tracking the presentation
- Feed forward structuring message; for example, these three points are critical
- Stimulus prompts; these are three important diagnostic factors for determining risks of heart attack_______, ________ and ________.
- Use the make me feel important (MMFI) rule to find unique ways to connect with the audience. Create a psychological safe environment , build closeness and openness by using people’s names, nodding your head, looking people in the eye with one thought rather than scanning the room. Use natural gestures, which are experienced as inviting; for example open hands rather than pointing a finger.
- Use analogies to express your message and create understanding. The human brain is use to dealing with visual images and tying new ideas to information already known. The dictionary defines analogy “as a likeness in one or more ways between things otherwise unlike.” The analogy is one of the most powerful communication techniques and yet it is the least used form of evidence for speakers. One of the main reasons for it’s under use is that the development of an analogy takes imagination and creativity by the presenter to tie the analogy to the main goal of the presentation and to listener’s interests and needs. For example: Exercising every day is as hard as saving money, but it pays off in the long run.
- Statistical and factual evidence. In a technical presentation statistics are the most frequently used form of evidence. Unfortunately, numbers and facts can over load the listener’s ability to process and retain information. When using graphs and visual support explain each bit of information and build the slide one idea at a time. To strengthen credibility, state whom conducted the research and their credentials.
- Story Telling. Your experience or others experience related by means of a story is a form of evidence because it gives the listener tangible evidence and illustrates the viewpoint of the speaker. The communicator’s personal self-disclosure and involvement through stories brings the evidence to life; first-person life. Story telling helps make your presentation believable and conveys your human side.
- Examples make the information concrete and tangible. Examples can take ideas from the theoretical to the practical. Because of the massive misquotes and misuse of statistics, even examples have become automatically suspect by many listeners.
- Communicate in common and understood language. Often presenters out of habit, comfort and sometimes to demonstrate their expertise use professional jargon and lose the audience. Do not assume that listeners understand complex technical language. If you need to use technical language, provide definitions or a glossary handout to facilitate communication. In order to facilitate impact and effectiveness of presentations it is important to keep your language clear, concise and compelling. Remember your goal is to connect with the audience and impart information and ideas listeners can use to their benefit.
It is important to remember that the single overriding goal of a presentation is to provide meaningful content in an entertaining way so that participants focus their attention, understand material and are receptive to implementing new ideas back on the job. The whole preparation, presentation and content of a lecture must therefore be directed not to the speaker but to the audience needs and wants. I encourage you to try some of the above interventions so that your lectures may be perceived as more of a two-way communication by using more interactive exchanges, experiential exercises and stories that will make your presentations more memorable and your message relevant.