I am one of those fortunate beings who gets to dedicate my life to creating happiness for my feline companions -- Gilbert, Sullivan and Jake (aka the boys). This is not an endeavor I take lightly, nor do they. And for all the toys, cat food, prime window spots, kitty climbing trees and love I shower on them, they pay me back in countless ways, including demonstrating some truths about presentation skills.
Here are the presentation best practices my kitties employ:
::Focus:: When my boys want something -- food, play, my lap -- they are laser focused in their intent. They do not allow themselves to be distracted or deterred. They shut out everything else going on around them and give their undivided attention to what they desire at the moment.
Presentation Best Practice: Focus is important for a presenter in a couple of ways. Staying focused on your presentation when you're developing it means you will dedicate sufficient time for prep and practice and not let other things get in the way. As well, a clear focus on your intent and what you want your presentation to achieve will ensure success. As you develop your content and design your visuals, keep coming back to your objective and key message to ensure that what you're creating supports what you want to achieve.
::Posture and Gestures:: When the boys are trying to communicate they use their bodies to underscore their message. They may lie on their backs with paws in the air communicating that they want to play. They may sit up tall and straight with one paw slightly lifted when asking for food. They may stretch a paw out and gently touch my arm to communicate that they want to be petted.
Presentation Best Practice: Use your body in your presentation to transmit engagement and energy. Stand tall and confidently. Move around your space with intention. Be aware of your gestures and use them to add visual interest to your words. Walk closer to the audience when you're making a key point. But also be aware of when it's appropriate to stand still. Ensure your body and your gestures enhance the message you're communicating, rather than detract from it.
::Repetition:: The boys gain my attention with their persistence and repetition. When their kitty alarm goes off telling them it's time to eat, they don't digress from their purpose. They tell me that they're hungry by rubbing against me, meowing, walking back and forth in front of me and then doing it all again and again until they accomplish their goal.
Presentation Best Practice: Repetition helps your audience process and absorb your message. Look for different ways of repeating and reinforcing your key message. When your audience hears that message multiple times they'll find it harder to ignore and easier to remember.
::Flexibility:: In spite of their single-minded focus and persistence, the boys know when flexibility is the best strategy. Once they recognize that they're not going to get any more food or that I'm working and can't play with them, they read the situation, revise their plans and go have a nap.
Presentation Best Practice: Although you've planned your presentation to follow a certain flow, it's useful to have some options in your back pocket in case you need to modify your plan. The sign of a seasoned presenter is having the confidence to be flexible. If you notice your audience looks confused or you think you've lost them or it's just after lunch, be flexible enough to adjust what you'd planned to do. Take a break, insert a Q&A session, give them a quiz, tell a story.
You can certainly learn presentation best practices from many sources. But if you are lucky enough to have kitties in your world, do watch and listen to what they can teach you about communicating effectively.