Friday, October 10, 2014

Engage your audience

George Bradt at Forbes writes with this advice for those about to give a presentation: Big Presentation? Don't Do It—Have A Conversation Instead. We should all be familiar with the phrase "Death by Powerpoint." It's when you are bored to tears by a presenter droning on, aided by an endless supply of Powerpoint slides.

I rarely find Powerpoint slides to be engaging. I prefer to use a bare minimum of slides. What slides I include tend to be visual aids: a photograph or chart, with very little text. Presentations should avoid distractions.

The first rule of using Powerpoint is: Don't use Powerpoint. To that end, Bradt recommends an engaging conversation with the audience. This makes the audience think, makes the audience part of the experience, and leaves the audience feeling differently. Citing Mike Broderick at Turning Technologies, Bradt shares these tips:

Think about the questions you can ask your audience to help them get down the road. What questions will engage your audience, to start them thinking more deeply about the topic? What will "hook" them?

Leverage polling or some other technique to disarm the audience. In my meetings, I have used affinity exercises and "dot" voting to great effect. Anonymous polling allows the group to quickly reach a consensus, and they are more likely to ask follow up questions.

React to surprising answers. Take responses seriously, and adjust the conversation to take new ideas into account.
photo: mine ("How not to use Powerpoint")

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