During a persuasive presentation, when should you make your recommendation?

June 11, 2012 in Author, Delivery, FAQs, Introduction, Organizing Your Content, Presentation, Sarah Stocker

It’s a good idea to state your recommendation (or solution) in the introduction of your presentation because it makes it easier for your audience to listen. Once you’ve told them what you want them to do (or believe) after your presentation, they can easily put everything that follows in that context. Everything you say supports your stated goal.

Of course there are times when it’s fine to build slowly to your recommendation. Just realize that when you do so, you’re asking your audience to be patient and follow your line of reasoning very carefully.

The recommendation is the third piece of Turpin’s 4-part introduction strategy. You can read more about creating your introduction in Dale’s post, Provide Structure through your Presentation’s Introduction.

by Sarah Stocker, Trainer and Workshop Coordinator at Turpin Communication

Training and Presenting in a Virtual World: Turpin Communication’s Top 10 List of Best Practices (a Year in the Making)

December 22, 2010 in Author, Delivery, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Training, Video, Virtual

greg 200x300As I look back at 2010 I realize that we spent a lot of time presenting and training in a virtual environment. We also produced a lot of training videos for ourselves, partners and clients.

For better or worse, it looks like webinars, video conferences and online training videos aren’t going away any time soon, so we might as well figure out how to present information effectively using them. All year my colleagues and I have been compiling some best practices. Here are 10 of them, 5 for presenting in a webinar format and 5 for using video conferencing.

Presenting Virtually

The biggest issue we see when it comes to presenting virtually is the challenge of keeping listeners engaged. Here are 5 suggestions.

  1. Create Compelling & Relevant Content
    I know this sounds obvious, but engaging participants in a virtual environment starts with your content. Too many times I’ve participated in webinars in which the speakers had nothing new or interesting to say. Participants in virtual events are a very (VERY) distracted bunch; don’t give them another reason to tune you out. Keep your content focused on their wants and needs, connect dots by reinforcing the application and relevance to their lives, and keep things concise.
  2. Do Not Read from a Script
    If people sense that you are scripted they’ll tune out very quickly. Instead, make it feel like a conversation. Each person should feel as if you’re speaking directly to him/her. Our recommendation for doing this is to have a second person in the room with you and speak directly to him/her. They will react, and when they do, you should respond accordingly just like you would in everyday conversation. Using this technique, your intonation will sound natural and interesting to virtual attendees.
  3. Include Multiple Speakers
    I’m more inclined to stay engaged when there is more than one speaker. It’s more interesting to listen to multiple voices with (perhaps) differing points of view. If you can include multiple speakers we recommend it. Just assign who will deliver what prior to going live.
  4. Being Interactive Does Not Equal Being Engaged
    Don’t confuse the “engagement tools” included in the event platform software with human engagement techniques. Using these tools does very little to engage people, but they do a lot to keep people active. So, think of the polling, hand-raising and chat features as “interaction” tools. The creators of these tools recommend using one every few minutes. That advice is silly and unhelpful. Do not use them just for the sake of using them. People are sophisticated and do not endure being hoodwinked for long. Instead (a) use one when it will genuinely help move things forward and (b) do your best to keep things relevant and engage your listeners in the conversation.
  5. Give Them Time
    When you use a poll or some other interaction tool, give participants time to complete the task. I find it irritating when presenters end a poll before I have time to thoughtfully respond. My recommendation is to set up the poll clearly and tell people how much time you’ll give them to respond. “You have 60 seconds to respond.” Then count it down for them. “30 seconds remain… 10 seconds… and the poll is now… closed.” This technique will give you the urgency you want so that people will participate, but still give them an appropriate window of time to complete the task.

There are, of course, other recommendations for conducting virtual sessions, but those are our top five.

Presenting Via Video

Now let’s discuss best practices for presenting using video. We’ve broken it down into two sub-groups: prerecorded video and synchronous video conferencing

Prerecorded Online Video (tutorials, eLearning, sales pitches, etc.)
While not an official part of our top 10 list, our thoughts for effectively recording a presentation on video are worth noting.

Earlier in the year we were contacted by Mike Grosso and David Tyner at KinetiCast. Their service allows sales people to create very quick video-based presentations that help move the sales process forward. They had seen some of our eLearning videos, and asked us to provide them with some how-to videos for their customers. Here’s a link to those how-to presentations using KinetiCast’s system. (You’ll be asked for your name and email. Don’t worry. We don’t sell anyone’s information.) While these how-to videos are focused on using the KinetiCast service (which we recommend by the way), the techniques for engaging viewers through the camera’s lens, being concise & listener-focused, and producing high-quality video on a budget can easily be transferred to other types of talking-head video creation.

Synchronous Video Conferencing
Video conferencing capability has come a long way, and it’s gaining momentum for becoming a standard delivery technique for meetings, presentations and training. Again, my colleagues and I have been compiling some best practices. Here are 5, which round out our Top 10 list for the year.

  1. Understand Lag and Synch Issues
    It’s important to understand that there may be some lag and that the video and audio may be out of synch. This causes people to unintentionally interrupt and trip over each other. Our recommendation is to be patient with others, and pause before speaking to ensure that the previous speaker was finished. This means that the conversations will be slower paced than face-to-face, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When communicating via one-way radio, it’s common practice to say “over” when you’re done speaking. Perhaps you can implement an equivalent process? This may be particularly useful when there are more than two locations dialing in.
  2. Assign One Person to be the Moderator
    The moderator can be the host or someone else, but make it clear at the beginning of the video conference that this person is in charge. When the discussion gets going and people start tripping over each other, this person should step in and moderate.
  3. Pay Particular Attention to Your Eye Contact
    You should look into the camera’s lens when speaking, not at the person’s eyes as they are projected on the screen or monitor. When you look into the lens, the people you’re speaking to will feel as if you’re looking directly at them. If you look at their projection, you’ll appear as if you’re looking off into space as you speak. This is difficult to do, but once you master it this technique won’t feel so awkward.
  4. Adjust Your Lights
    To the degree possible, adjust lights in your room so that your face can be seen on video. In general you want more light in front of you shining on your face and less light behind you.
  5. Don’t Yell
    I’m not sure why people do this, but they tend to raise their voices when on a video conference. Speak in your normal tone and in the general direction of the microphone. Check in with people, especially at the beginning, to set or correct your volume level.

So there you have it: a year’s worth of best practices for presenting and training in a virtual world. Have thoughts of your own? We’d love to hear them.

From all of us at Turpin Communication, have a wonderful New Year.

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Provide Structure through your Presentation’s Introduction

March 16, 2010 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Introduction, Preparation, Presentation

As you know, a well-organized presentation has three parts: introduction, body and conclusion.

  1. The introduction gives your audience a sense of direction and purpose, and a reason to listen.
  2. The body is, of course, the main part of your presentation, where you deliver the details of your topic.
  3. The conclusion summarizes what you’ve said, outlines next steps and closes the sale, if necessary.

Because it’s natural for presenters to focus most of their time on the body of their presentations, they often miss the chance to take advantage of what their introductions can do.

The process of developing an introduction helps the presenter zero in on the core issues.
If you’ve participated in one of our workshops, some of this should seem familiar. While most presenters understand that a good introduction helps listeners get motivated and focused, what they often don’t realize is that the process of creating an introduction also helps them.

As I said above, the first minute or so of your presentation should provide purpose, direction and a reason to listen. The result is that your introduction gives listeners confidence in you as a presenter. It tells them that you know what you’re doing, you’ve done your homework and you’re aware of their perspective. And, most important, that you’re in charge of the presentation of information and not just the information itself. The distinction is crucial. It’s one of the things that distinguishes confident, engaged presenters from those who are trapped in their own little bubble at the front of the room and never break out of it.

From your perspective as a presenter, the process of preparing an introduction forces you to zero in on the core issues of your presentation. When you really think about what your presentation means to your audience – independent of what it means to you – you’ll have an easier time narrowing your focus, articulating a simple agenda and eliminating unnecessary information. The benefits of that process will be felt throughout your presentation, and the way to make it happen is by disciplining yourself to create a concise  introduction.

The Four Parts
The first step is to break your introduction down into 4 steps and create a slide for each one, making sure that you use brief, parallel bullet points on each slide:

  1. Title. The title of your presentation should be meaningful, referring to the goal of your presentation or one of the benefits listeners will gain from it.
  2. Current situation. This is a brief description of what’s going on with your audience at the beginning of your presentation. Sometimes it describes their frame of mind or a problem they’re facing. The more accurate the current situation, the more credibility you have.
  3. Statement of Purpose (or Recommendation in a persuasive situation)  & Agenda. You can determine the purpose of your agenda by completing this sentence, “At the end of my presentation, I want my audience to (what)?” Your agenda should contain the 3 to 5 main topics you plan to cover.
  4. Benefits to Audience. This slide lists what your audience will gain by doing what you’re asking them to do or understanding what you want them to understand.

Hanging It All Together
Once you’ve created these four slides, try them out to see if they work together to achieve the goals of a good introduction. You may find that you’d like to remove or rearrange slides depending on your topic, audience or goals. That’s fine. Just be sure that the final version of your introduction can be delivered in about a minute and gives your audience purpose, direction and a reason to listen.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication


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