August 21, 2019

Less is more

Garr Reynolds had a fantastic post on PresentationsZen.com (Sept. 28, 2007) about “Pecha Kucha” that all seminar presenters should see. Here’s part of what Garr writes:

Pecha Kucha“Pecha Kucha is a global presentation phenomenon started in 2003 in Tokyo by two expatriates. What is Pecha Kucha? Our friend Daniel Pink sums up the essence of Pecha Kucha in the title of his Wired article on the subject: “Pecha Kucha: Get to the PowerPoint in 20 Slides Then Sit the Hell Down.” The Pecha Kucha method of presentation design and delivery is very simple. You must use 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds, as you tell your story. That’s 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Slides advance automatically and when you’re done you’re done. That’s it. Sit down.”  

Think about it. What if you took your 2 to 3-hour seminar and designed a “Pecha Kucha” version. What would you take out? What would you leave in? Would it have the same impact as the 2-hour full-length feature?

Now that Garr has introduced me to the Pecha Kucha method of presentation design and delivery , I’m going to try my hand at designing a self-run 20-slide PowerPoint® with embedded narration and put it up here on a future post. Be looking for it.

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“I didn’t ask you to show me how to build a watch!”

Speak for yourselfI’ve noticed that seminar presenters are generally well versed in their subject and they sincerely want to “teach” the audience what they know. That’s a problem. They present too much detail. It’s as if the audience asks, “What time is it?” and the seminar presenter goes on and on about how the watch was built. It wasn’t until I read a few paragraphs of John Campbell’s book, “Speak for Yourself” that I got it. He said:

“The great danger with centering your talk on the needs of the topic is that you waste your own time and that of the audience with irrelevant detail.”  

“If, on the other hand, your first action is to look at what your audience already knows about the topic, what it needs to know, what it wants to know and how it will use the information, then you are far less likely to waste time during the preparation and delivery phases of your talk. So the first step should be to research the audience; leave the topic until later.”

 -John Campbell
Speak for yourself

A practical guide to giving successful
presentations, speeches and talks

BBC Books, 1990 ISBN 0-563-21511-9

 

Next time you plan your seminar, if you REALLY want your audience to react to your call to action at the close, plan it around their needs – then weave your seminar points into what they want to know.

 

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THE secret of success

Eye glasses“People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, never need worry about what the future has in store for them.”

—Owen D. Young

This powerful statement can be a guiding light for planning and delivering seminars. We present seminars because we want to inform, teach or have the audience act on a proposition. If we present slides that have so much detail that only we can understand them, let’s not be disappointed when the audience doesn’t react to our exquisite close asking them to buy our special offers!

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Do you hide what you say?

Ultra LightWatch the really good TV sportscasters. The best are animated with their hands and make LOTS of gestures. Good news! – They weren’t born with that presentation talent, but it can be learned.

If they were former players, they had to be coached to perform their sport at above-average levels. As announcers, they’ve been coached to be good on camera. Their “star status” in sports didn’t automatically transfer to being talented on television.

Compare the major news networks with your local sportscaster. See how much more interesting it is when the pros use natural animated hand gestures, facial expressions and a variety of voice inflection – ALL the essential ingredients of good communication.

Here are two sportscasters who get completely immersed in their message – John Madden and Al Michaels. Go see them in action via the link to the short segment on NBCsports.com

When they talk, they MOVE. Their gestures are up high – where the camera will see them.

I’ll bet that before they became famous in front of the camera there was a presentations coach behind the camera saying, “Get those hands up! Let’s SEE the action! Don’t just talk about it – SHOW IT!”

Don’t be ordinary – Get animated when you present in your seminars! Animate! Be convincing. Let your audience SEE what you’re saying!

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Captivate an audience

Krushchev’s Shoe / UnderhillKrushchev’s Shoe and Other Ways to Captivate an Audience of 1 to 1000?
by Roy Underhill.

What a great title. Any book with a title like that is bound to get attention. It certainly got mine! As a bonus, I found it to be the first book I have ever read that was “an audience-centered approach to making inventive presentations” (from the jacket liner notes).

It’s a must-read for every seminar presenter – and it wasn’t written by one who delivers seminars!

Roy Underhill brings his creativity from being the creator and host of the PBS series: The Woodworker’s Shop, “one of the longest running programs in the history of television.”

I was particularly interested in where he learned about audience participation: from hands-on work as Director of Interpretive Development for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. There, he had to develop methods to get a moving audience to stop and become engaged at specific interpretive exhibits. Now THAT takes skill and ingenuity! Think of it – what if you had to get your audience to stop and sit down to listen to your presentation!

This is not a book about how to arrange your PowerPoint visuals. It IS a book about the audience – their needs, desires, wants, predictable habits and expectations. Many unskilled seminar presenters deliver what they want the audience to learn, period. Underhill’s book will convince you to change that bad habit forever.

Audience involvement. A key to persuasion. It is a skill to be learned, practiced and mastered. Start right now by getting Roy’s book and see things from the audience’s point of view before designing and presenting your next seminar. You’ll be glad you did – and so will your audience!

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The secret to presenting to groups

The CEO of a large company with 150 regional sales managers from all across the U.S. was planning his yearly address and about to make his annual mistake – a presentation to his sales team. To him, they were “the group.”

We’ve all made the same mistake that our CEO was about to make for the umpteenth time: making generalizations about our seminar audience. Our brains have the tendency to catalog things in familiar groups: young people, old people, female, male, beautiful, homely, smart, not-so-smart – all according to our upbringing, culture, and a variety of other influences – including things that are familiar to us. (See pattern recognition) We do the same thing when we see a group of people facing us from rows of seats: we put them in the familiar “audience” category.

We might make the mistake of preparing & delivering a seminar from a single point of view when in fact, individuals in the group of folks out there might know more about our subject than we do, might not care about the details of our subject and don’t care one bit about our multiple university degrees!

Wooden Apples Cropped

This image of apples reminds me that any audience is made up of individuals with different backgrounds, interests, preferences for learning and may want to know more about my subject… or they might just want to be entertained. It’s up to me to find out , not just make assumptions.

Spend some time finding out who makes up your seminar audience and see them as separate individuals with unique needs. Present to those needs and watch them respond to your call to action!

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Where should you spend most of your planning time?

Ultra LightI once owned and piloted an ultralight and was taught by my instructor Martin Yeager to always do a thorough pre-flight check of the aircraft and my mental attitude before EVERY flight. And he taught me to do it the same way, each and every time. There was no clipboard or written list. I had to learn and remember over a hundred steps of the process – every nut, bolt, wire, surface & tube – my life depended on it!

In the same way, our professional life depends on proper preparation before each seminar. Don’t “fly”without first doing a careful analysis of the audience. As part of the planning, ask yourself:

  • What does the audience want to know?
  • What do they need to know? (Try giving them a bit of what they want before attempting to give them what you think they need)
  • Why are they at your seminar? (Sent by others? Curious? Desire? Knowledge?)
  • What do they expect of you? (Humor? Inspiration? Knowledge? Entertainment?)
  •  What is their prior experience with your topic?
  •  What will they want to do with any information that you give them? (Influence others? Provide report to another group? Ask others for action or follow up?)
  • What questions will they want answered by the seminar?
  • What remaining questions might they have as a result of the seminar?
    How will they respond to PowerPoint®? (Do they respond best to numerical figures? Pictures? Creative graphics? Graphs? All of the above?)
  • Will they want a “handout” of your presentation? (Should it be different than just a copy of your visuals? How will they use it?)
  • What do you want the audience thinking at the end of your seminar?
  • What do you want them em>to do as a result of having been at your seminar? (Begin planning your seminar with the answer to this question.)

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