Tell me, I’ll forget.
Show me, I’ll remember.
Involve me, I’ll understand.
The business world traditionally has struggled following this adage, especially when it comes to presentations. Presentations are a staple in business, but audiences are not always fully engaged. We’ve all been there, sitting through someone recite a 10-bullet point slide deck, only to walk away forgetting what you just heard. Or looking at a neatly-designed, animated slide deck that caught your eye, but you remember more about the layout and images than the content. So, you’ve heard it and you’ve seen it, but you still might not understand it.
Businesses need to go above and beyond to involve audiences and help them understand. Beyond static presentations to visual, engaging storytelling. Here are a few ways to get your message across and your audience involved:
- Tell a story
Reading through a slide is a sure way to lose your audience. However, countless studies show that telling a story helps audiences connect with the presenter. Your story does not have to be long, but needs to be captivating. Have you ever heard of the six-word story widely contributed to Hemingway? It goes like this:
“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Captivating lines like that are certain to grab attention and let the presenter dive deeper into the story and how it relates to the presentation. If you need help with story ideas, check out these storytelling techniques by Nuts & Bolts Speed Training.
- Be visual
A picture is worth a thousand words. This is as relevant today as it always has been because research shows our brain processes images much more than words. In Dr. John Medina’s book Brain Rules, he sums up the effectiveness of visuals: “Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.”
The key is to use visuals that illustrate your message, not just fill up space. A great way to get started is by reading up on what not to do. Presentation Zen and Speaking About Presenting offer some tips that help you think about connecting the right image with your words so that your audience stays focused.
- Be collaborative
Presentations have traditionally been delivered as one-way communication tracks. Audiences are presented slides and talked to. Using conversational tones is important to making the audience feel like you’re talking with them, but you still might not have full engagement. And while there are plenty of articles on how to engage your audience, they usually cover short-lived tricks such as polling questions at the beginning of your presentation.
If you want to truly involve your audience in the room or across the globe, you need collaborative, two-way interaction. That may mean having a free-flowing conversation and keeping your prepared materials as back-up. Or, using innovative technology that provides more than just a static screen for a slide, and instead provides a wide array of interactive tools and sharing options on an infinite canvas. A canvas that allows ideas and concepts to come to life as fast as participants can think of them. You’d be surprised at how many people start getting involved if they feel they are part of a productive meeting.
So, now your audience has heard your message, they’ve seen it, and they understand it. You’ve gone beyond a traditional presentation to a meaningful experience.