Presentations have been falling apart for a while now. You can feel it and so can I.  

The internet has changed how much information people have access to, what they learn, and how they use it. The sheer volume of information available to potential leads has significantly altered the buyer’s journey.  This means that when someone is considering working with you, they will already be 57 percent of the way through their decision making process –  before they get in touch with you. What’s more, 67 percent** of that journey is now undertaken digitally.

With that being the  case, it’s pointless to use your first meeting to present information they’ve already discovered – and judged – on their own. Many businesses, however, are still making this mistake, and that’s one of the key reasons the traditional business presentation no longer works.

The good news is that you can get one step closer to totally reinventing the way you present by embracing an innovative, yet naturalistic form of presenting called ‘Conversational Presenting’.

There’s a fast-growing group of people using this technique to great effect, from business leaders and sales and marketing executives, to media personalities and more.

The idea begins by building one presentation that contains all the information you need for  any meeting on your subject. Once that presentation is in place, you simply present a different version of it each time, depending on who is sitting around the table. You adapt to fit the audience you’re speaking to.

But remember, the beginning of a meeting sets the tone for all of what follows. Starting your presentation with a question is one of the best ways to engage your audience right away.   Try starting with something along the lines of: “Thanks for giving me 20 minutes of your time, how can we best spend it?” or “Thank you for joining me today. We’ll be talking through X subjects, so where would you like to start?”  Then let the conversation control what you may or may not show of your presentation.

If this revitalisation sounds interesting, there are two key aspects of conversational presenting you need to know, which will turn the traditional approach on its head.

*https://www.cebglobal.com/insights/challenger-sale.html

**http://www.siriusdecisions.com/blog/three-myths-of-the-67-percent-statistic/

Structure

Rather than attempting to tell a linear story – scrolling through numerous pages of information from point A to point B – conversational presenting ideally operates within a single space. Instead of the typical slide after slide approach, the conversational method means putting all the information forward in a single, open  canvas. That canvas can then be navigated in a variety of directions, depending on your audience’s interests and the flow of your conversation. Prezi’s platform is built around this canvas approach, allowing users to make all their information available to the audience in a visually engaging package.

You could think of the structural adjustment in this way: instead of offering up a single route to memorize, you are handing over the map and letting the audience explore all the different options. This lets the audience feel like they are in the driving seat, rather than being a passenger. Simultaneously, this nurtures their natural curiosity and desire to explore.

It may be a daunting prospect at first, and may feel like a sacrifice of control, but it brings two major benefits. It will not only make your audience more engaged but will also push you to know the subject inside-out, in a way that means no question – no matter how unexpected – will throw you off track. You’ll be a bullet-proof presenter in a way that you may have never been before.

Delivery

Multi-party participation is crucial to conversational presenting. Kicking off with a confident, straight to the point ‘What would you like to focus on?’ will set the tone and jolt the audience into action.

As soon as someone pipes up, you can dive straight into the area suggested and from there, with further participation, the presentation will move naturally along the lines of audience interest, with you remaining in control of the bigger picture.

This shift in delivery has a huge impact, as it moves the audience towards dynamic, participatory learning. In school, an out of the blue request for input puts the whole class on their toes, making them more vigilant and attentive. The same applies to your audience.

For many, presentations have stagnated. Rather than an exciting opportunity to learn or teach, they have become an exercise in routine listing of dry facts. Using the above techniques and focusing on a  conversational approach will liven things up not only for the audience but the presenter too. That enjoyment and engagement will naturally translate to achieving your goals – the journey there will just be more efficient, and much more exciting.

Spencer Waldron

Spencer Waldron

Contributor


European Regional Director, Prezi.