Presentations - Understanding Your Outcomes
Think back to presentations you have seen. There will no doubt be some which stick in your mind as being truly fantastic, while others simply diminish from your memory, never to be thought of again.
Having clearly defined outcomes can make the process of delivering an unforgettable presentation much easier and inform not only the content, but the way this content is presented.
What do you want your audience to achieve?
Having a definitive end achievement for your presentation should be the first step in your planning. What do you want your audience to achieve?
- Do you want them to completely understand your subject matter or simply provide an introduction for them to continue learning about it in their own time?
- Do you want them to feel empowered to act on their own, or continue the journey with you and your team?
- Do you want to ignite a dialogue among peers or be the definitive voice on the matter?
By having this end goal at the fore-front of your mind while you prepare the presentation you can ensure that every part is aligned to take your audience on a journey to achieve your desired outcome.
The journey is just as important as the destination
Here at Lane End we have conducted research which suggests that audience participation can greatly increase the amount of information retained after a conference. Our research was focused on technology, but this also applies to questions, quizzes and general back and forth between presenter and your audience.
Allowing your audience to feel comfortable asking questions and interacting with you empowers them to feel part of the presentation. Its success is their success.
An engaged audience can turn even the longest presentation into an exciting and seemingly quick experience.
Knowing your audience
Your audience will likely have a variety of different experiences, interests and levels of knowledge. A skilled presenter will acknowledge these and be prepared to react accordingly.
Think about the following:
- How much does your audience already know about the topic?
- How can you explain new material and link them to material they already understand?
- Will you need to win them over to your point of view?
While this is not an exhaustive list and you may not know the information for every person attending you should have enough information to ensure that you have crafted your presentation at the right level for their needs.
Avoiding technical jargon for beginners and clearly explaining concepts are just two ways in which you can put your audience first. If you don’t do this you will likely finish your presentation with half of the room disengaged and lack lustre applause rather than a standing ovation.
What type of atmosphere do you wish to create?
The venue of your presentation can be an important part of the jigsaw puzzle. Everyone knows the constant battles over the air-con in the office and the presentation room is the last place you want this to be an issue.
Having access to windows and a natural source of light can solve many of these issues. Allowing natural air flow in a room can keep everyone invigorated and alert during your presentation. Equally, ensuring there is plenty of natural light will keep your audience engaged.
If you’re using an electronic presentation as so many of us do nowadays, then favour darker colour schemes which can be seen under lighter conditions. It will mean you will not need to block out the light as much and ensure you can keep this fantastic benefit.
ROOM CONFIGURATIONS ARE KEY
There are a couple of standard room configurations which work well for the majority of presentations. Do you want a theatre style set up with you “on stage” or do you want a cabaret room style to encourage collaboration?
Think back to your objectives, which do you think will be most beneficial to these?
Avoid information overload
This is a difficult one, as the expert you have so much information which you want to get into your presentation and there may be the temptation to overload your presentation with everything except for the kitchen sink!
Generally speaking for a 10 minute presentation where there is time for audience interaction at the end we would recommend not covering anything more than 2 main points. This will allow you to go into as much information as is required and allow time for an introduction and conclusion.
If your presentation is an hour, this doesn’t mean that we instantly recommend including 12 points. In this case we would recommend going up to about 5-7 points, but elaborating more on each. Obviously if it is a day course or the audience are highly educated already you can include more.
Having a relatively strict outline will ensure that you only cover the essentials of your presentation and will enable you to focus on the core principles and ensure your audience gets it completely.