Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Presentations must take root to take effect

While ideas made during a presentation might be soaring, like this
gorgeous artwork in Tacoma, Wash., a good speaker must also make them concrete.  Photo by Liz Cezat.

As executives and leaders, we are highly motivated to connect with others in our presentations. It excites us to speak in front of an audience of listeners who may be forever changed by what we tell them. We want to share what we know about a particular subject so that the audience can benefit from our knowledge, expertise and experience.
My presentation roster focuses on three subjects:
1.     How to write effective e-mails
2.     Marketing professional services
3.     Connect with key audiences through social media
My goal is for the salient points to take root and ultimately become a part of an individual’s work habits. Toward that end, it’s not enough to simply hear an idea expressed, the audience must also be shown how to activate it. I provide work sheets so the audience can incorporate new ideas discussed during the presentation into their process. To make it stick, I often provide concrete examples of how an action has yielded results. And we all want results, don’t we?
The strongest points of a presentation should be available on handouts and in slides for future reference. I also send follow-up e-mails to the audience to reinforce points made during the presentation. These e-mails can be spaced a week or two after the presentation to remind participants of the salient points. I remind them that I’m available via e-mail or phone as a resource if they have any questions about what they learned. The e-mails also serve as positive reinforcement to those who have already incorporated the new ideas into their workflow process.
Speakers are messengers of the moment. What we say strikes a chord based on the life experience of the listener and their openness to receiving that message. But too often, the message is fleeting. Heard but forgotten. To make that spark of a new idea take root, the reinforcement tools of handouts, work sheets, slides and e-mails take the lessons learned one step further – being deployed into a worker’s process.