Confucius once said
I hear – I forget.
I see – I remember.
I do – I understand.
And not surprisingly, he is right. Have you ever noticed that if you drive to a new destination, somewhere you have never been before, the next time you go there you will remember the way. But if you were taken there by someone else, the likelihood is that you could not find it again without resorting to the map. The difference is that as the driver you actually did it, while as a passenger you literally just went along for the ride.
Are you good with people’s names? A tip I learnt is, after you are introduced to someone, try and use their name in conversation, when you are talking to them and then again when you say goodbye. It will help you to remember their name. This is because you were using it, you did something with the name not just hearing it and forgetting it.
Get your audience involved in the presentation, if you can ask them to do something, they will remember it far better and longer than if you just tell them about it.
This is why entertainers, particular in that great British tradition of pantomime, encourage the audience to shout and cheer.
Hands up who has come from xxxx? Putting your hand in the air as you say this reinforces the action that you want the audience to copy and encourages them to put their hands up.
Try to think of ways you can get your audience to participate rather than just sitting there as passengers.
One technique I have used is to ask your audience to write down on paper the top three issues they have with the particular topic of the presentation. Then ask people to call out what they have written down and write it up on a flipchart. There answers should not be a surprise to you and you can refer back to them during your presentation. This technique means that your audience had to think of the issues not just listen to you stating them. It has the added bonus of making the whole presentation seem more impromptu and more relevant to the audience.
For some audiences and some presentations, it is impractical to get them all under taking a physical activity. However, you can always get the audience thinking, which is the next best thing to doing. Use a rhetorical question – give them time to think about the answer. Ask them a question and get a show of hands. Get them to imagine a situation and think through how they would handle it. In effect, they are doing it in their heads, which may not be quite as good as actually doing it but is far more memorable than just listening to it.
When you ask them to imagine a situation, make it personal and try to include as many of the senses as possible, i.e. what it feels like, how it sounds, what it tastes like, what they can see and smell. Bringing in all the senses helps to create a strong image that people can associate with.
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