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Engaging Presentations – Keep Their Attention, Limit the PowerPoint

No one likes the talking head.  Or enjoys listening to a speaker that is monotone, has no personality and doesn’t know how to engage the audience.  As a planner, the months of constructing a flawless event can be ruined by one dull, boring presenter.  Trinity Creek Consulting strongly advocates limiting the bullet-point PowerPoint and keep the presentation lively.

Nick Morgan, a contributor to Forbes Magazine, proposes using music.  “We have an emotional response to music which is much more powerful than we do to most words.”  Morgan encourages us to add a soundtrack to a presentation.  “It will bring it to life.”  When doing so, be sure to obey copyright and licensing laws.

Morgan also suggest using video.  “Video – good video – has all the life in it that static slides lack.   A good clip can enchant, move, and thrill and audience in 60 seconds.  You can create the right emotional atmosphere to begin or end a speech.”

Room for Success
AlexAnndra Ontra, the co-author of Presentation Management:  The New Strategy for Enterprise Contact, believes room configuration sets a presentation for success.  No more uninventive lackluster class-room style seating, which can be cold and intimidating.  Prioritize comfort.  If furniture (lounge-like area with large ottomans and overstuffed sofas) is not an option, set the venue banquet style to boost social conversation and networking.  Ontra advises us to “…manipulate the seating layout to support a more interactive session experience.”  Casual seating can inspire collaboration and easy conversation.

Audience Involvement Encouraged
Ontra encourages speakers to get the audience involved, even before the presentation.  This can be done via social media by posting program content or a short video to get the attendees motivated or to share a specific message.  Urge speakers to mingle with attendees before their presentation at an opening networking reception or meal function.  By doing so, the speaker builds rapport with attendees, promotes their session and encourages attendance.

Ontra says, “Interactive presentation content if fun, engaging and evokes emotion.”  Involving the audience (demonstrations or questions/answers) captures the viewer’s interest and can discourage monotony.

Morgan emboldens audience involvement through asking questions, getting the audience to share their stories or resolutions to an issue.  He proposes using props.  “Instead of describing that new product on a slide, show them a prototype.  Pass it around.  Let the audience get physical.”  Morgan inspires us to “Stop thinking of a presentation as a static activity where you show slides to a catatonic group of fellow humans.  Instead, treat them as co-conspirators in something exciting, educational, and fun.”

“Content is still king,” conveys Ontra and “…by encouraging presenters to deliver it in a more conversational and interactive manner, you’ll help them keep your audience engaged.”

Lastly, Ontra reminds us, “Once the conference is over, it’s important attendees walk away feeling that they’ve gained valuable insight; and it’s your job to help presenters capture their attention.”  As planners, we need to remind presenters to limit the bullet-point presentation and use a direct approach that is more natural and interactive.

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