Participation

January 22, 2010

How do you engage with your audience? How do you involve them in your presentation?

The key to an effective presentation is not talking at your audience but talking with them.

By getting your audience to participate in your presentation, you are far more likely to gain their engagement. Participation can take many forms, from physical activities to enlisting their imagination.

As David Cotton owner of Wize-Up Learning put it “Audience size doesn’t have any bearing on interactivity and I have never found an occasion in which I couldn’t introduce some level of interaction with the group. I’ve done interactive stuff with 2000 people in a concert hall. They expected to hear a speech but didn’t get one. Within seconds they were all on their feet, doing silly breathing exercises and then engaging with each other. It was enormous fun! On another occasion I had 165 corporate lawyers from 27 countries creating artworks together and on another groups of British civil servants singing and performing sketches. There were real learning objectives underlying each of these occasions, so it wasn’t purely frivolous!”

Cynthia Lett says ” I enlist the audience’s imagination from the start. My subject is etiquette so I explain they are going with me to an event (a meeting, dinner, reception – whatever my time restraints allow). Then we go together with me as the “tour guide”. I never stand behind a table or podium. Since we are “in this together” I am right next to them – talking with individuals who are encouraged to share their thoughts, situations and questions.

People take from a presentation what they can visualize themselves”

Just two examples of how you can bring your presentation to life with the help of some audience participation. As mentioned in the section “Do It” people will start to understand something only when they start to do it, not just by hearing and seeing it.

This tip was created based on a discussion item on Linkedin


W2IFM

January 11, 2010

W2IFM – Stands for  What’s In It For Me.

We live in a world of information overload, there is just too much information being circulated and re-circulated for any one individual to take in. One of the strategies people have adopted to cope with this vast volume of information is to only listen to or read information which is relevant to them. In fact most people will only listen if the information and opinions being presented will actually be of used to them. Hence the question “What’s in it for me” (W2IFM).

Right at the start of the presentation you have to answer that question in an attention grabbing manner, otherwise nobody will listen. You then need to keep answering the question throughout the presentation, to keep people involved.

Presentations should not be about you.

Presentations should be about your audience.

There are far too many business presentations that spend far too much time talking about their company, their products and their services. Reeling off lots of facts about how large they are, how long they have been in  place, how much money they have made, etc etc, Most audiences don’t care, they are siting their think W2IFM, What’s In It For Me?  In a sales presentation stop talking about your products and services and start talking about how your products and services can be of benefit to your audience members.

Essentially, this is the same as the difference between a feature and a benefit., see article on FAB.  Lists of facts and features are essentially boring while proven benefits are engaging.

The only way you can tell you audience things that are of interest to them is to know you audience (See A for Audience), and put yourself in their shoes. Imagine going on a first date with someone who dominated the conversation and talked about themselves all night long. Would you really want to go on a second date with that person?

As you develop the presentation keep asking “so what?” , “why should they care about that” and “what’s in it for me”.


Flip Charts

January 8, 2010

Flip charts and whiteboards are very useful tools when you are giving a presentation to a small or medium-sized audience. They enable you to be more interactive with your audience and reduce the pre-canned effect PowerPoint can sometimes induce.

Here are 10 top tips on using flipcharts:

  1. Make sure all the pens have ink in them and write properly before your audience arrive.
  2. If you have pre-created some sheets, keep them covered with a blank sheet until you are ready to use them.
  3. If you are not confident in your artistic abilities, draw what you want in pencil on the sheet(s) beforehand, then during the presentation you can go over the pencil lines with a felt tip. The pencil lines will not be visible to your audience.
  4. The same works for any text you need to write
  5. If you have prepared a number of different sheets which you would like to refer to during your presentation, add a little tag on the bottom of each sheet so you can easily flip to the right page.
  6. For whiteboards make sure you have the correct pens (dry markers) and an eraser before you write anything.
  7. Don’t talk while you are writing, you are better to turn write what you have to write then turn back to your audience before talking about it.
  8. Be aware that it is very easy to keep looking at a diagram that you have just drawn while you talk about it. You should look at your audience not the diagram.
  9. Once you have finished with a sheet on the flipchart and starting to move on to a different subject, cover up the flipchart with a blank sheet.
  10. To ensure audience interaction, give out paper and pens to everyone in your audience, then ask them to write the 3 most important qualities, aspects,problems,challenges or whatever related to your presentation topic. Then ask people to shout out what they have written and write them up on the flip chart.  This is far more effective than just listing the top 3 in your opinion.

Be creative – All the Best

Graham Young

http://www.businesspresentation.biz


Emotion

January 8, 2010

You can design, create and deliver a perfect presentation with an attention grabbing start, a well structured body and a clear call to action at the end but if you don’t put any emotion into it your presentation will not change anything.

You may have very strong logical arguments, you may even be right!  but if you don’t have emotion, if you don’t have a passion, if you don’t show that you care about the topic on which you are talking, your audience will not care either.

A common trait when giving a presentation is to become very formal. Some people put on their “presenting hat” and think “I have to do this properly”, “I don’t want people to see that I’m nervous”, “I need to speak slowly and carefully so that everyone can hear”, “I don’t want to say err or umm”. The problem with this approach to presenting is that in trying to do it properly they end up taking all the personal feelings out of the presentation, it becomes a presentation devoid of emotion.

Alternatively, some people intentionally try to remove any emotion from their presentations, particularly when they are talking on a technical subject. They feel there is no place for emotion in the subject or even no place for emotion in business.

I will say this only once, All presentation that lack emotion are boring!

To have any chance of making your audience believe what you are telling them, you have to believe it yourself and you have to show that you believe it. If you have an exciting new product, there is no point telling everyone it is “an exciting new product” in a monotone voice. You have to sound excited.

If you worry about the effects of global warming, you need to sound worried, not just quote facts and figures.

Not only do you have to be emotional as a presenter, you want/need to stir the emotions in your audience.

Rather than talking about for instance global warming abstractly, talk about how it may affect each and every member of your audience personally. What life will be like for their children and grandchildren.

History has shown time and time again, people are driven by their emotional needs. It is not always the technically best product that wins, or the cheapest, more often that not it is the product sold by the person the buyer likes most and trusts most. Why do you like some people more than others? It is certainly not down to logic and reasoning, it is about emotion.

The majority of presentations are forgotten, not because they were all uninteresting at the time, but because the speaker did not challenge our emotional state.

One of the easiest ways to conjure up emotions in a presentation is to tell a story, a personal story. When I run presentation training courses I often relate what I’m talking about by telling little anecdotes about presentations I have given or listened to in the past and the emotions that I felt at the time.

Not only should you start creating a presentation by thinking what you want your audience to do after the presentation, you also need to think about how you would like them to be feeling. Is it happy, reassured, confident, angry, determined, thankful, or any one of a hundred other emotions you can invoke.

In many respects this is the same argument as the difference between features and benefits. Most people will agree that if you are selling something you are better to focus on the benefits than the features. You not only need to present the features but tell your audience what they mean to them. Similarly, you don’t just want to argue the logical facts of your case but make your audience feel the emotions as well.

It is the emotional bond that you generate with your audience which will make them remember your presentation


Message

January 5, 2010

It is surprising where the time goes to when you get up and start talking.  In a 30 to 45 minute presentation, you have only time to get across between three and five main to points.

Keep it simple!  If you cannot state your central message in one or two sentences, you probably have not narrowed your topic enough, or clarified your thoughts enough.

  • Decide on three to five key points.
  • Develop supporting evidence for each key point.  Include statistics, stories or examples.
  • Develop a strong introduction and powerful conclusion with a call to action.
  • Use visual aids, which help to communicate your message.
  • Perform the presentation with enthusiasm, variety and passion.

Structure of your Message

How do I set about creating a presentation?  What structure should I use?

Every persuasive business presentation should have a similar structure, based on the problem/solution model.  In business, if you are not trying to solve someone’s problems, I would have to query how you are earning your money.

It all starts with an attention grabbing Opening. There is no point in talking if everyone is not listening and thinking about what you have to say.

When the audience does not know you or your company well, you may then need to establish credibility.  This is best done in a fairly subtle way, e.g. highlighting your track record in the area of the presentation.  The objective of this part is not to boast of previous accomplishments but to build a level of trust with the audience so that they know why they should believe what you are saying.

Now you should outline the problem that you believe exists and that your audience are likely to be suffering from.  People do not buy things unless there is a problem or opportunity of some sort. By highlighting this problem or opportunity at the start of your presentation you are providing a fundamental reason for the presentation. Then, create a vision of success as to how that problem can be overcome or the opportunity exploited. It is imperative that you audience buys into this vision, otherwise there is little incentive for them to listen to how you can achieve it.

Next, outline the detailed areas you are about to cover.  Depending on the subject matter, the details can be organised in a variety of different ways including: topically, chronologically, spatially or alphabetically.  Having a structure, for the order in which the details are presented, will help the audience to understand and keep track of your presentation.

The main body of the presentation consists of the detailed problems / solutions.  It is best to use reasoned logic, facts, figures and anecdotes to back up your arguments.  Cause and effect based arguments, which describe the benefits of success as well as the downsides of failing, can also work well in this main body.

Each topic area can almost be treated as a mini presentation in its own right.  The overall presentation structure being rippled down to each detailed area.  Do not forget to link the different areas together, using a series of verbal signposts and referring back to your structure.

End the details section of the presentation, with a summary of the benefits to be gained.  See F for FAB for a discussion on the difference between Features and Benefits.

Having provided all the detailed information, now is the time to call on your audience to join with you to help to achieve the vision of the future. All business requires two parties, two people, two companies or two sides the buyers and the sellers. It is impossible to do business on your own. So this is the point in the presentation to highlight that by working together you can achieve those benefits.

Now we are approaching the end of the presentation. It is now time to restate that vision of success that your audience bought into near the start, just to remind them where we are heading and provide a link back to your attention grabbing opening statement.

Thank the audience for their attention and take any questions from the audience if appropriate.  Then finally, present your call to action, which is designed to fulfil your objective for this presentation.


Speaker

January 5, 2010

That’s you!  Like it or not if you are giving a presentation you will be judged.  Many of the hints and tips in this book are aimed at improving how you will be judged.  Helping you to overcome any fear/nervousness and turn it to your advantage by using the energy generated by the adrenaline to add more power to your presentation.

The biggest factor in your success as a speaker is your confidence.  If you are confident you will come across far better than if you are timid and nervous.  As perception is far more important than reality, looking confident can mask an awful lot of nerves that are bubbling up under the surface.  The aim is to look like a swan gracefully gliding across the top of the water, keeping the feet, which are paddling like mad, hidden from view.  Like the majestic swan, how you look and how you dress are very important in instilling that confidence in yourself and in your audience.

Look out of place because of the way you are dressed and it will affect how well your message is taken.  Although many businesses have a dress down policy these days, if you are presenting to a business audience it is usually advisably for a man to wear a suit and tie and a lady to wear a suit or similar business attire.  Shoes should also be polished, as it is surprising what assumptions are still made about a person in business, based on the state of their footwear.

When you are addressing a group of factory workers who are all dressed in overalls and you want to influence their behaviour, then a more casual appearance may be beneficial.  You may want to appear less like one of the managers and more like one of the team.  Every situation is different but there is never an excuse for not worrying about it.

By wearing clothes that make you feel good, it will help to boost your confidence.

Looking good is just part of it you also need to sound good.  This means three things:

  1. Speaking loudly enough so that people can hear what you are saying.
  2. Speaking clearly enough so people can understand the words that you are saying
  3. Omitting unnecessary words, grunts and groans.

When you are projecting your voice, you use your diaphragm.  This is completely different from shouting, which is achieved through muscles in your neck.  It should not hurt to project your voice unlike it does if you shout too much.

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


Objective

January 5, 2010

What do you want the audience to do as a result of your presentation?

To create an effective presentation the first thing you need to decide is what the objective of the presentation is.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

But there may be more to that simple statement than you first perceive.  You could say that for a product presentation the objective is for the audience to learn about the product, but that would be a very poor objective, as there is no action associated with it and no way of measuring how successfully it has been accomplished.  The question you should ask yourself is ‘Okay, after my presentation they will know more about our product, but what do I want them to do next?’.

If your answer is ‘I want them to buy it’ then maybe you have gone to the other extreme.  This objective may be fine if you work on a market stall and sell a vegetable chopper that cuts, slices and dices everything from tomatoes to pineapples.  In that case, it may be realistic that after you have presented how easy it is to use and what a lovely job it makes, some people will want to buy one.  For a market stall presentation, “selling the product” is a very good and plausible objective, which is measured by the thickness of your wallet at the end of the day.

However, for most business-to-business sales, it is unlikely that the presentation will lead directly to the sale. The sale may happen months later by which time you will have forgotten how well the presentation went.

So what is your objective?  And how can you measure your success?  The best objectives are SMART objectives.  

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

In the above examples objectives “getting the audience to know more about my products” is not easily measurable or very specific, and buying the product is not very timely.

A reasonable objective, when the presentation is the first real contact that members of the audience have had with your company, may be for 40% to arrange follow up meetings with your sales force.

When you are presenting at a conference on a subject, in which your company specialises, you may measure the success by the number of people who come up to talk to you after you have finished. You can set yourself a target of say 10 people. If only two people want to talk to you afterwards, then it may be because your presentation did not stir up enough interest. If over 20 people come to talk you, you will have exceeded your expectations.

As every presentation has an objective it is important that the presentation concludes with a call to action that informs, encourages and directs people to meet your objective.  If you want them to arrange a meeting with your sales force, you need to tell them to arrange that meeting and make it as easy as possible for them to do it.  Consider having the sales force join you after the presentation so they can talk to their prospective clients, there and then.

With an objective of having people to talk with you after a conference presentation, you need to tell the audience where you will be and that you would welcome the opportunity to discuss any aspect of the subject in more depth, on an individual basis, or answer any more specific questions that your presentation has raised in their minds. 

As you can see, by objective, what I am really talking about is what action you want the delegates to take following the presentation.

Of course, yours is not the only objective you need to consider.  What are the audience’s objectives likely to be?  What do they want to get from your presentation?  Understanding your audience and their objectives is the key to an effective presentation and is discussed in the section entitled ‘The Audience’. 

Your OSRAM objective should be SMART and remember to use a call to action at the end of you presentation to reinforce your objective.

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