Research by the National Speakers’ Association shows that becoming more facilitative (i.e., more interactive or service-oriented) is the single most important change a speaker or presenter can make. Following, you will find three powerful presenter tips to use before, during, and after presentations.
If you have not compiled a personal handbook with presenter tips about your personal approach, do so now. Consider keeping prior handouts and slides, agendas, a master glossary, and evaluation summaries. Continuously improve your agendas and capture detailed annotation for the agenda steps you frequently use in events, meetings, and presentations. Especially document complex challenges requiring brainstorming, decision making, prioritization, and so on. Reflect on the speaking environment and organizational culture to determine when certain tools work best, or fail. Your handbook ought to be dynamic, organized, and useful.
1. PRESENTER TIP
Take extra caution to precisely articulate your presentation’s purpose, scope, and objectives.
- Do not rely on a vague and dull purpose statement such as to “educate” or “inform”. With instant, worldwide online access, there are far more effective ways to become informed and learn new material than to attend a live presentation. Presentations are normally intended to shape and guide behavior. WHICH behaviors and WHAT decisions need to be made that will affect or impact your audience?
- Stipulate the scope of your presentation to help manage time and keep your audience focused. What should be included and more importantly, NOT included. Scope represents the boundaries of your presentation and subsequent discussion.
- Consider your statement of presentation objectives as a discrete package you could document and hand off to somebody. If I was unable to attend your presentation but you could hand me the benefits, what would they be?
Presenter Tips Before Presentations
Provide a comprehensive pre-read that stresses the questions your presentation addresses. Add some structure including selective ground rules to get more done, faster. Consider an attractive presentation template. Specific participant behavioral guidelines you may want to encourage (listed alphabetically):
- Caution participants about voice inflections that may indicate disdain or an otherwise counterproductive attitude
- Let each person respond without interruption
- Share in accepting post-meeting follow-up assignments
- Stay on topic and agenda, begin and end on time
- Welcome conflict but separate issues from personalities
2. PRESENTER TIP
Remember that the business audience for most topics (i.e., those more complicated than individual, private decisions) should consider three different perspectives, Each type of business participants needs their own scorecard or method of measuring the input received from your presentation. Most organizations operate with a solution sponsor, a financial decision-maker (accountable for final approval), and an operator (primary user of the product, system, or solution):
The solution sponsor is held responsible for the identification of solutions and getting the results sought by executive sponsors. Sponsors may decide alone or with a project or product team. They frequently approve the solution concept, request funding, and make the commitment for results and benefits that will be accrued. In a hospital setting, for example, the solution sponsors may be the directors of finance and/ or radiology.
- Executive sponsor(s} represent the person or group of individuals who authorize solutions. They really do not want to attend more presentations or view more data; they simply want results. For example, in a hospital setting, the sponsor might be the vice-president of HIS (health information systems).
- Individuals who will operate the new solution (e.g., a new MRI system) and likely have a strong voice in the brand and model selected. In a medical setting, the operator may include radiologists or radiology technicians. They could be responsible for moving patients in and out of the MRI as quickly as possible, while transferring patient images and information to the appropriate diagnostician.
Presenter Tips During Presentations
Especially when time constrained, encourage audience participants to interact with you as if their message delivered results to someone’s voicemail. Alternatively, encourage responses that would fit on a single 4X6 notecard. Have participants use actual notecards for scripting their “voicemail,” stressing the main points. Encourage them to get to the question or main point by the second sentence.
3. PRESENTER TIP
When questions are asked after your presentation, be more facilitative by repeating the questions and comments loud enough so that everyone can hear and respond as appropriate. Use an easel or whiteboard to reflect the input of your participants so that everyone can absorb the comments provided by other participants. Visual reflection frequently outperforms auditory reflection for impact and memory retention.
Consider our Guardian of Change tool to build consensual understanding about what the presentation means to everyone. Presumably you want all the meeting participants to depart with a message that sounds like they were in the same presentation together. The Guardian of Change tool helps generate comparable rhetoric and harmonious actions. You certainly don’t want participants in the hallway to sound and behave as if they were in different meetings together.
Presenter Tips After Presentations
Consider some variant of a Plus-Delta or a more robust anecdotal evaluation template that assesses the effectiveness of you and the meeting. A tool that that moderates between the two is shown below. It provides numerical feedback but relies on three questions and optional, anecdotal feedback. The questions shown are solid, but also illustrative. Do not hesitate to substitute questions that provide you more value, yet rely on a similar format. With this template, you can print two per sheet, reducing the visual burden on your participants by keeping it small.
Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.
Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)
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- Taking Charge of Poorly Led Meetings When You are Not the Leader (mgrush.com/blog)
- Primary Types of Meetings and the Boundaries to Closely Manage (mgrush.com/blog)
- Leadership Style Depends on Source of Ideas & Solution Ownership (mgrush.com/blog)