By Nerino Petro at 20 December, 2007, 11:35 am
I am asked to give a lot of presentations not only here in Wisconsin, but around the country as well. A corollary to this is that I have also had to sit through a great number of presentations as well. Some have been absolutely terrific and others were so painful that I had to leave before they were completed. One of the primary differentiators between a great presentation and a bad presentation is often the speaker, not the subject matter.
While most people can gargle peanut butter for an hour if they have to, having a speaker that not only conveys useful information but does so in an entertaining fashion can make even the most boring topics worth paying attention to for an hour or two.
One of the blogs I read regularly is Brand Autopsy administered by John Moore. As lawyers, we can often find good information outside of the legal world, especially when it comes to marketing. I find many of John’s posts to be both informative and entertaining and his Commit to Your Presentation and Eureka! It’s Performing, Not Presenting posts are two of these.
While your presentations shouldn’t be simply comedy routines, treating your presentation as a performance seems to be a way of insuring that you keep your audience interested in what you are saying. When I think about the presentations that I enjoy, they are from speakers that can sometimes seem a little over the top and who are at least a bit entertaining. I’ve sat through a number of presentations that had great information, but the speaker delivered his information in a monotone voice that could’ve been following a metronome for cadence. Painful is a kind description for this type of presentation.
Some of my best reviews have come from presentations where I can move around and my own mannerisms such as “talking with my hands”, tending to be a bit animated and vocal are given free rein. I’m giving the attendees a show and they seem to prefer this to seminars where I am merely a voice behind a lectern or table. The key seems to be knowing where the line is between pure performance without substance and performing while conveying good and solid information.
So when you have to do your next presentation, think about your audience: do you want them to have to gargle peanut butter for an hour (most likely not learning anything because your presentation style leaves them no choice) or do you want them to walk away having enjoyed the session and remembering what you were teaching? I know my choice. Give John's posts a read and see if you can learn anything from his ideas.