Issue 50 of ChangeThis was recently released. It is a real milestone in the world of ideas and publishing. If you don’t know, ChangeThis provides a unique way of disseminating ideas — with authors submitting a concept for a ChangeThis manifesto, and the web public voting for those they would like to see published. This is a version of “conceptual evolution” where only the fittest of ideas will survive the initial voting to make their way kicking and stumbling to the vast digitally connected sea.
The 50th issue is on the subject of “presenting small” and its author, Andrew Abela, asks us to carefully consider our objectives before we plan for or present our slides in a meeting. In particular, he suggests we determine whether we want to:
- Share information, motivate the audience or even entertain them; or
- Have our audience make a specific decision or take action
Normally, the former means presenting to a large crowd – maybe a hundred or even a thousand people or more. This is the domain of PowerPoint. The latter is much more personal. It is where you are presenting in a room (not a theater). It is where you are selling your products or services, pitching an idea or seeking a commitment of some kind – you are seeking change.
Now, I don’t know about you, but the majority of my presentations are to smaller groups. They may be to a dozen or so executives, a handful of board members or just my direct reports. I almost always want to see some outcome. This means making my presentations:
- Interactive: Allow people to digest ideas in their own way and encourage them to ask questions. Even better, turn the lights on.
- Detailed: It is the details that add persuasiveness to your presentation. Even if people don’t read the detail, they will be comforted to know it is there and available.
- Distraction Free: Clip art and color can confuse your audience. Everything must have a reason and be mutually reinforcing. Don’t encourage your audience to think about your choice of image or color at the expense of your ideas.
In addition to these tips from Andrew Abela’s ChangeThis manifesto, I would also include:
- Make it personal: If you are presenting to a small group, ensure that the business resolution you are seeking is personalized for the people in the room. Help them come to a personal decision. Focus your materials on the business objective at hand.
- Ask: Don’t forget to ask for commitment.
Nina Nets It Out: When you are presenting to a small group, make sure you tailor your presentation to suit. Provide plenty of detail, make it interactive and don’t confuse your message with unnecessary graphics. Print out copies for people to read, and remember, it is all about outcomes.