Are You A Presentation Karaoke Machine?
As a service provider, one of the best ways to market your
business is to offer free presentations at association meetings.
It's a great way to share knowledge and build relationships.
However, you've got to entertain as well as inform.
While reading the newspaper this morning I noticed a funny
cartoon, Real Life Adventures, by Wise and Aldrich. Two
businessmen are talking to each other and the one says, "It's a
presentation karaoke machine. You can play an earlier successful
presentation and lip-sync to it. And since most meetings are
about the same old thing every time, nobody even knows the
It got me thinking about how many pathetic presentations I've
attended that did sound like they were coming from a
presentation karaoke machine. The presenter didn't care whether
the audience was "getting it" or not, he just rambled on with
his agenda. It was a waste of time for both the presenter and
Make Presentations Two-Way Communication
Presentations can be described as a one-way communication
activity. The participants sit and listen while the expert
"presents." However, it's this type of thinking that creates a
I prefer to think of presentations as an opportunity to engage
my audience in my topic. Presentations can be a two-way
communication activity if you take the time to make each
presentation unique for the group you are presenting to. No
matter what your topic, it can be tweaked to meet the needs of a
For instance, if I am giving a talk on effective business
writing techniques to a group of realtors, I would make sure the
examples I use refer specifically to the writing of realtors. I
would find out ahead of time what realtors consider their main
problems when putting together a business message. From there I
would incorporate solutions to these specific issues in my
A presentation isn't effective unless the audience can relate to
what you are saying. They have to bring the information into
their world before it will make sense to them. That's why it's
so effective to use examples common to them.
Adults Learn By Doing
Remember, adults learn by doing. Try to include some small, fun
activity, in your presentation to involve your audience. Rather
than telling them, let them experience the excitement of
discovery. Arrange one of your main points to become an exercise
for the audience.
The activity doesn't have to be complicated or take a long time.
I often use a handout where participants fill in the blanks. I
encourage participants to work with the person sitting next to
them to try to get the right answer. Everyone laughs when I read
off the answers and we all have a good time.
Doing this accomplishes two things: you give the audience a
break from your lecturing and you give yourself a break from
lecturing. Now you can put yourself in the role of a facilitator
and get some one-on-one interaction with audience members. It
will also cause your evaluations to skyrocket. Adults get such
few opportunities to have fun at work that these activities are