At any corporate conference, attendees’ schedules are packed with breakaways, keynote speeches and all kinds of business presentations. From the main ballroom to adjacent conference rooms, as business professionals shuffle from one presentation to the next, they’re checking their emails and touching base with the office to make sure everything is running smooth at their actual jobs. Of course, they’re at the conference to learn from the industry’s best, but with so much going on, it can be tough to concentrate and retain all the information. That’s why meeting professionals need to help presenters and encourage conversation-driven, interactive presentations, so that attendees leave your event knowing they gained valuable insight.
When setting your presenters up for success, consider the following strategies:
More conversation, less lecture
Be like Oprah, talk with your audience, not at them. Get the conversation started from the very beginning instead of waiting until the end to invite questions and feedback. When you talk directly to your audience, they get involved and pay attention instead of resting their eyes as you tediously click from one slide to the next. The conversation is what drives the presentation, not pre-planned bullet points. Kick off your presentation with a direct question to your audience, and let your presentation follow the conversation.
Go beyond simple stock photos
They’re boring, stodgy, outdated and, most of the time, feature too many people wearing suits. They don’t convey any sort of real message. Presenters use them as quick filler that doesn’t bring much value to the presentation.
Today, more than ever, we have access to an endless amount of content on all kinds of mediums. Instead of some generic picture of a business-type sitting behind a desk, staring at a computer, use a meme or a gif. After all, no one adds humor to the office setting quite like Michael Scott. Whether it’s humor, anger or surprise, it’s emotion that sticks with audiences. As presenters, we’re so conditioned to add some stock image, when instead, we can use a pop culture reference that not only delivers our message, but also leaves an imprint with the audience. Then, when audience members are back at work, they’ll remember the meme and what they learned at your presentation.
To be seen in today’s business world, we need to deploy an endless amount of content across social platforms, websites and newsletters. Businesses invest millions of dollars developing content that drives action, so it only makes sense that these crucial communication assets end up in business presentations. Presenters don’t need to reinvent the wheel. They can use content that’s already proven to convert—such as graphs, case studies and one-pagers that are already approved by marketing and compliance. Whether it’s through a simple folder structure or a more sophisticated presentation management app, all of this content should be easily accessible to the presenter so they can present it to an audience easily and efficiently.
The way we communicate is constantly changing, and it’s important that our business communications adapt. Gone are the days of outdated PowerPoint presentations, and their monotonous slides filled with bullet points. Instead, presenters should take a more personal, less formal approach that engages their audience. No presenter should be reading, word for word from some a deck of slides. Instead, talk to your audience right from the beginning. Go beyond stock photos and find images that evoke emotion.
Finally, use the content that’s already proven to convert. With these tips, you’ll give a presentation that follows the conversation, keeping your audience focused so they walk away feeling smarter with the information they need to solve their problem.
AlexAnndra Ontra is co-founder and president of Shufflrr and author of Presentation Management: The New Strategy for Enterprise Content.