Presentations have always been an important part of business. Whether you’re an audience member or the one giving the presentation, this is where ideas are shared and deals are done. However, there is a huge problem facing presentations these days, and it’s something that doesn’t look likely to change any time soon.
No one has enough time!
In this extremely hectic business world none of us have enough time. We certainly don’t have time to waste in presentations that don’t offer us exactly what we need to know. How many hours or even minutes have you had to waste over the last 12 months sitting through painful PowerPoint slides that just aren’t relevant to you? And how many of those slides have you actually delivered yourself to a much disengaged audience?
We need to consider a different approach to presenting. We need to have better conversations.
The name that’s been given to this new presentation approach is conversational presenting. Quite simply these are presentations that don’t follow a set path, and instead flow naturally with guidance and input from your audience.
You can see an example of a conversational presentation being used on an iPhone in the video below, and these can be created using either PowerPoint or Prezi (my personal favourite).
As you can see it’s extremely easy to just double tap the screen and zoom into the relevant area of your presentation (also easy to do when presenting from a laptop). This means that you can start by asking your audience the most engaging question they will ever get in a presentation:
What would you like to know about first?
Once you have the answer to that question, just go straight to that content and tell the audience what they need to know. Then return back to your overview, or as we like to call it, the ‘Big Picture’ and then ask again…What else would you like to know?
The benefits of creating conversations
I’ve used a conversational approach when presenting to my own customers and prospects and here are some of the benefits I’ve noticed:
1. The Ice Bucket question
Starting a presentation by asking people what they want to look at first is literally like throwing ice cold water over people. It always amazes me how everyone in the room sits up straighter, puts their mobile phones away, and really starts to pay attention. And that’s before you’ve even presented anything.
2. Time saving
What would usually be a 60-minute presentation delivered from start to finish can become a 20 to 30-minute conversation. In half the time you can engage the audience twice as much.
3. Being more memorable
Every presenter should have the same aim regardless of their subject matter, and that’s to be memorable. After all, if no one remembers you or your content then what was the point? Taking a conversational approach and allowing the audience to drive the flow of your presentation helps them remember more. This is mainly down to the fact that you aren’t overloading them with lots of content they don’t need to know.
4. Less pressure on you
The benefits above should be enough for you to completely re-evaluate how you pitch your business ideas to customers. If it helps, I can tell you that one of our own customers saw their sales increase by 400% after adopting this approach. That’s definitely not to be sniffed at!
Technology and business moves so quickly, but for some reason the way we present ideas has really lagged behind. It’s now time to think about how you share your content and remember that unlike 10 years ago, your audience can now get all the information they need about you and your business before you even stand in front of them to present. Don’t waste their time with things they already know, but instead let them do the driving and fill in the gaps in their knowledge. With a conversational approach the rewards are huge.
About the author
As one of Prezi's official independent experts Russell works tirelessly to help businesses across the globe up the level of their presentations. He is the founder of The Prezenter and manages a team of presentation designers and trainers all focused on helping business people tell more engaging and memorable stories.