Sunday, December 7, 2014

One mistake presenters should never make and 8 strategies to avoid it

Whether workshops, panels, keynotes, or classes there is one mistake presenters should never make. It is a mistake I learned to never ever do from a wise lady early in my career. I've heeded this advice and seen the negative ramifications of those who do not. Ramifications such as a frustrated, unsatisfied, and anxious audience as well as less than favorable reviews and feedback. Additionally, when presenters, don't heed this advice, the chances of their audience incorporating what they've learned into their work, decreases.


Fortunately, if you remember this one piece of advice, your future presentations will be brighter and your audience will leave more satisfied.


The advice is…
Always make sure your audience members feel “they have everything they need to be successful.”


Presenters fail when they say things like:
  • "We have a lot to get through today."
  • "I am speaking quickly so we have time to cover everything."
  • "We're already behind schedule."
  • "In the interest of time..."
  • “I’m going to skip things so we can get out of here early.”
    -Ann Oro suggested this in her follow up post (see in comments below). I Agree!
Or do things like:
  • Require participants to take down everything you say, because you haven't provided it to them. They're focused on the low level task of copying, instead of the higher level thinking of making meaning.
  • Not provide a detailed, timed agenda that could be turn-keyed.
  • Not tell up front and remind participants in the middle and end what goals are and that they are making strides in accomplishing the goals of the session.  
Instead…

A great presenter helps those who join her feel they got "just what they needed" out of the experience. They feel at ease, accomplished, and satisfied.


Some ways to achieve this include.

  1. Build in extra time at the beginning
    Start out by putting your audience at ease. Create a collegial atmosphere as folks arrive. Perhaps a simple do/now ice breaker where you ask participants to talk to the people around them and find out what they hoped to get out of the day. This gets minds flowing and allows for a relaxed start with a networked room.
  2. Plan for latecomers  
    Latecomers can throw off and delay a presentation. When you address the audience ask them to be the ones to fill in a latecomer should they sit next to them and let them know what to share.
  3. Provide ALL materials
    Speaking of what to share, keep it simple. Create a link where participants can access EVERYTHING you've shared. This way they don't worry about missing anything and you don't have to worry if they didn't get something down. I do this using a timed agenda. Here is a sample: http://tinyurl.com/NYCDOEEdmodoAgenda
  4. Ensure Materials Can Be Re-purposed Don't share materials only in PDF. Don't give access without copy ability. Provide materials to participants so that it is easy for them to make their own, customize, and bring back to their work. This is a wonderful gift for teachers (time!) and students (great new learning materials).
  5. Smart Name Tags
    You know that link I mentioned above? Don’t worry about saying it over and over or having to keep putting it back on the projector. Provide name tags or cards with all the information participants will need i.e. a link to the presentation, Twitter hashtag, how to connect to the internet, etc. This way, the answer to every question is “It’s on your name tag.”
  6. Sum up the learning
    At the end of your time share all the new things participants will be able to do as a result of your time together. This way you’re focusing on what they have learned. The audience is assured that they got what they came for out of your time together.
  7. Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 9.49.31 PMTake backs
    Ask participants to share what they'll take back to their work. This reinforces their learning.  Some ways to do this could be via a Tweet, Text, post it, 140 characters outloud or using something like a 3-2-1 sheet where participants share 2 things to remember, 2 things, to talk about with someone else, and 1 thing you'll do before 30 days pass (HT to Ann Oro for this suggestion.).
  8. Use reassuring statements
    Let the audience you know you are right on track with statements like:
    • "After our time together you'll know exactly how to..."
    • "We are right on time."  
  9. Have two plans
    Have one plan if the class moves slowly. Have an additional plan if they move quickly. If they do, let them know that they were so on point they get bonus learning. If they move slowly, they’ll still know exactly what you told them they would learn.  


So what do you think? Have you experienced presenters who try to rush through information? Have any of these strategies worked for you? Are these strategies you would try when you present?
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