Just reading an interesting article by Cliff Atkinson I saw on Twitter (Thanks @AnthillMagazine) about presentations and the backchannel potential disasters. This is near and dear to my heart!
I have been doing Presentation Skills lecturing and training at University level for over a dozen years now and believe I have a solid and simple solution to this phenomena.
In presentations the key to effective communications – and by that I mean communications that get results – is the issue of emotion and story telling.
In the countless presentations I have witnessed, critiqued and sat through, only a handful are memorable. That is the emotional part. Less have affected me. Changed my life so to speak. That is the effective part.
First, we simply do too many presentations. Most, if not all, are horrible. And it is not your fault, by the way. Most folks are not trained, come at the presentation from the wrong angle and have expectations of the outcome that no one could achieve.
But, I don't want to get ahead of myself here. I could write a dozen books about the professional presentation game. All I want to point out here is that I can guarantee that if you are doing a presentation and folks are Tweeting you have lost them way before this happens. Now, don't get me wrong, I really do not have anything against someone Tweeting during a presentation. Folks will do what folks do. I do have, however, an issue with the presenter not engaging the audience. You can only do that with emotion. Not spinning globes on a Deck! Death by Power Point (I have written about this at length) is a huge issue.
In my classes, I make folks give presentations without any exhibits, decks or aids of any kind. I get them to work on connecting with the audience. I believe when creating a presentation – start at the END. Start with the listener. You have to know their expectations, their level of involvement, their interest and their motivations.
If someone is not interested in what you are saying, is bored, ends up in the wrong presentation at a conference or simply is being a putz and wants attention – you can never stop that. Stuff happens. (I was going to say shit happens but I am being nicey/nicey here!) It is the same as someone heckling you – the person doing this should not be confronted. In a solid presentation the rest of the audience is affected by this person screwing up their experience. Not the speaker. The audience, if they are on your side, will not tolerate anything diminishing their experience.
For the professional speaker, every appearance must be the very best, like a warrior's last dance. If you want to speak like a pro, get up there and say something that will make them lose track of time and forget everything else in the world except what you're telling them. Give them something to remember.
Or, you can run through your 75 page deck, talk to each slide off the top of your head and become Road Kill on the Twitter stream.
Tell em a good story. Trust me on this. It works. If you get them engaged they will be tweeting ZOMFG He/She is amaz …. and then get back to watching you in wrapped attention!
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