Saturday, August 22, 2009

Presentations: Sorting the Complexity Beforehand

At a recent conference I attended it became clear to me that some presenters hit the mark quickly and stayed on it, finishing with a crescendo, whilst others meandered around their topics in an aimless way successfully disengaging the baited audience.

On reflection, it seemed to me that the key to the success of each good presentation was the presenter had explored deeply, from the receiver’s viewpoint, and boiled down the vastness in the information they were presenting to a single salient message, or at most a few powerful points. And they stuck with them, embellishing them, but within the realm of simplicity. They first created a roadmap and from there ventured into it.

It’s recognition that highly technical sets of data need to be counterbalanced with an approach to simplicity—and this adds power and punch.

It’s a message that speaks of ‘more with less’ and a process that whets the appetite and doesn’t bore people senseless, encouraging inappropriate audience response behaviours which are, in the mix of things, disrespectful.

Beginning with the End in Mind

The presenters who got it right seemed to have started with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey would put it, relating to his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. They seemed to have asked themselves the question, ‘If I was in the audience, what would I want to take away from this?’

It’s a customer-focused angle where the person receiving the information is front of mind for the presenter in his or her own planning and delivery. The presenter starts boldly, they build with needed fact and relevance, and conclude with the take home value that has the receiver quickly scribbling down notes of takeaway benefit.

They keep it simple and audience directed. They’re attentive to audience response, having planned for unexpected nuances of both support and disinterest, for we’re all surprised by what people actually find most interesting—being blind somewhat to what we actually deliver in the context of a completely different person to ourselves, personally.

Does your presentation pass the ‘simplicity test’ packing a valuable and memorable punch for the receiver?

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