I attended a presentation recently (at the DC Chapter of ASTD - the American Society of Training and Development) on using Web 2.0 tools to enable social learning. The presenter did a great job on most presentation techniques but one thing really stood out -- his connection with the audience.
He used many presentation best practices to engage his listeners -- eye contact, asking rhetorical questions, having some knowledge about issues important to this audience. But what was particularly impressive was how he modeled the philosophy of Web 2.0 in his presentation.
WEB 2.0 PHILOSOPHY
Web 2.0 is all about collaborating, sharing, facilitating rather than teaching, embracing an abundance mentality. So instead of presenting gems of wisdom from the lofty perch of the expert, accompanied by a multitude of PowerPoint slides, this speaker encouraged a dialogue where audience members interacted with each other, sharing ideas, commenting on others' comments and making discoveries along the way.
Now this was not audience members being put into groups at their tables to discuss a point and then report back. This was real time interaction and sharing, facilitated by the presenter who managed the timing, asked questions, synthesized and added value to the comments.
The audience was energized and very involved. They had contributed to their own experience.
And they had made new networking contacts to follow up with after the presentation.
ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS
What ingredients does a speaker need to create this sort of presentation?
- a clear understanding of the key messages and how to get back to them
- significant comfort level with the material
- willingness to give control to the audience
- ability to get that control back
- lack of heavy reliance on PowerPoint slides
- skill in anticipating questions
- ability to think on one's feet
- ability to let go of one's ego and be OK with not having all the answers
A tall order, you might say. And I agree that it is not the typical presentation style. But the payback in terms of audience response, engagement and value makes it a format worth putting into your tool kit.
What are your thoughts on the benefits and challenges of this type of approach?