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VIEWPOINT: Presentations need not be so theoretical

Imagine you are trying desperately to pay attention to a technical presentation being delivered, and all you really want to do is to (theoretically) rather stick a fork in your eye than be bored to (technical) tears! In this article, let’s look at how you can turn a seemingly dull subject into an exciting showcase.

First, consider the content of your speech and note down the top 3–5 points that are most critical to delivering during your presentation. The unused points can be incorporated as a handout or a pre-reading document that is circulated to your audience.

Second, you will be most admired as a presenter if you can take your 3–5 points of wisdom and package them in a structure that is memorable to your audience. Most people make the mistake of merely delivering content to their audience as it appears in a manual or a book. If this is what presentation is about, then why should your audience listen to you when they can read an update? Your role as a presenter is to be an “edutainer”. Structure your content around a memorable acronym, a teachable visual model, or a pictogram.

Third, anchor each point with an activity to further entrench and embed the learning into the minds of your audience. You can do this through a simple on-stage demonstration illustrating how something is done. You can also get your audience involved in a quick 1–2-minute activity. The rule with audience activity is: to provide clear instructions; keep the activity simple; ask for feedback from 1–2 people; and end the activity with lessons learnt linking back to the point that you were illustrating.

Fourth, personalise your message with a story of your life experience on the subject matter. Talking about how you overcame certain challenges or the reasons why you feel so strongly about a matter help to connect you as a person to your message and ultimately to connect your audience to you as a presenter. The story itself needs to be brief (2–3 minutes) providing a quick background to the story, explaining both the challenges you faced and how you resolved it, and ending with lessons that you learnt as a result of the experience.

Finally, end your presentation with the top three action steps you want your audience to do immediately or consider after your talk.

Author: Dineshrie Pillay CA(SA) is a business owner and public speaker trainer