Two Tips for Your Next Presentation

Everyone who subscribes to this newsletter – and I mean everyone – has to give presentations from time to time as part of their job.

Here are two tips to help you give better presentations:

    1. Don’t “give” presentations
    2. Don’t “present”

Huh? Seems counterintuitive?

Sure it does. But it’s valuable advice.

Let’s start from this premise: When audiences are in “receptive mode,” they are less engaged and more judgmental. So, let’s not let them be in receptive mode. Let’s keep them in “engagement mode.”

Instead of giving presentations, conduct them.

To “give” implies that the information flow is one-way. Human communication is much more effective when it two-way instead of a one-way. Even better, create a multi-dimensional exchange by having your audience members interact with each other, within a structure you create. That’s really engaging.

Your job when you are in front of an audience is to facilitate communication, not to dump information. Conduct an information exchange, not a deluge of words.

To do this, think conversation, not presentation.

Turn every presentation into a conversation.

This morning I was the keynote speaker at a conference. As I was being introduced I looked out at the full ballroom and gave myself one piece of direction: “Remember to make this a conversation, not a presentation.”

Even though my job today was to teach and impart information, I was very focused on having a thorough conversation with the audience, not a one-way barrage. I asked them lots of questions. I left time for them to ponder after I made a point. What I did wasn’t difficult, or novel. It was just normal … normal human communication.

Was the conversation effective?  As I looked around the room it struck me that nobody had their nose buried in their cell phones.

So the next time you get yourself ready for a presentation, remember these two important tips:

  1. Don’t give the presentation, conduct it.
  2. And don’t think of it as a presentation. See it for what it is: A conversation between you and your audience.

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