After 10 Years at Symantec and a few here and there; I’ve amassed a fair bit of corporate culture and spread a bit of my own.
Thus with tongue in cheek (and sometimes not) I give some advice for presenters gleaned from a series of Train the Trainer sessions
- Personal introductions by the participants are pointless and wasteful. Never mind the inevitable oneupmanship that comes parcel with such round-the-room games:
Office Drone 1: I’ve been wasting employer dollars in fruitless training sessions for 5 years!
Office Drone 2: Oh yeah!?!? I’ve been doing nothing but roll paper coronets at my desk for over a decade!
Office Drone 3: Oh YEAH!!??! I’m having sex with Ms. Johnson’s daughters and that’s how I got that corner office...
Constructive Alternative: Instead of dedicating X (varying) amount of time to your “group building” activity, introduce yourself noting why you are presenting today, explain what you are presenting and set out a time line for the Presentation including breaks and lunches (if needed)
- Consider your audience, if they are a homogeneous group of people (all from the same basic background and experience, tailor your language and pacing for them) if it is a heterogeneous group from varying backgrounds or experience, aim for the middle and not the bottom.
Side Note: When tailoring your speech or documents for the general public you are encouraged to mete out your information in easy to understand, spoon-fed portions. In a professional office everyone is expected to have a high-school diploma and the reading comprehension skills that accompany such accolades. Speak to your audience as if they can think, breath and chew gum at the same time.
- Be flexible and Gracious. You are speaking to adults, while they are expected to behave in certain ways one can always anticipate one troublemaker who will either through callousness, egotism or sheer lack of ability pull down an entire class. If things get out of hand take the troublesome person aside and either have a polite discussion about appropriate behavior for professionals (without saying anything like that) or possibly asking them to keep careful notes of their concerns for a post-presentation email.
Anecdote: I’m a fairly energetic and entertaining presenter, I’ve been told on numerous occasions that when I am “on” I am engaging and entertaining as well as super-informative. I’m also aware that if I am put off-track I can been boorish and overbearing. My personal lesson is to remember that the whole audience needs to hear what I am saying, becoming sidetracked by single individuals or problems brings the whole Presentation down.
- No Matter how funny you think you are being, you do not laugh for your own jokes. If you must make jokes, real jokes, then pause for laughter only if there is any.
Comedy: It’s all about …
- Don’t sell your work by telling us about the creation process of the Presentation or self-aggrandize in your presentation; you had an opportunity to do that when you introduced yourself, save the self-praise for when you get the job done and you are “rewarding yourself”
Yes, it is a euphemism.
- Do not defer to your audience for answers if you do not know them, it may make you seem more approachable; but in the long run it undermines audience confidence. If you don’t know, ask for a follow-up email or promise the same.
- Purge your vocal tics elsewhere, If I have to hear you say “right?” “Man” “cool?” “okay” or “You get me?” from another presenter I might actually have to “get” one.
- If your audience is bored or tired, be energetic and engaging, not manic and demanding.
- Work out your education theories elsewhere. Unless the audience is their to be educated, you are simply a presenter. Give the basic information, give detailed notes they can take home and no more. There is no need to be detailed in your presentation unless you are actually imparting knowledge that needs to be fully retained.
Constructive Advice: Run your presentation in brief by your spouse or room mate. If they get bored, it is too long or it does not engage them. If they are not in your target audience, find someone who is and run your presentation by them. Repeat until you have informed and not bored your audience.
- Be confident! The audience is your captive. They live and breathe by your words now, so don’t worry about it!
- If you can say it out loud, you should have it written down!
- If you can show it as a live demonstration, you can videotape or record it in some way for people who cannot attend. You can save a great deal of energy if you can make a presentation that an audience will enjoy and retain whether you are there or not.
At the end of your presentation, thank your audience for their attention, make any kind of evaluation sheets/methods available and record your own feedback in writing while it is still fresh.
Question: How do you reward yourself for a job well done?