friendly chat
November 14, 2020

Should you give a presentation or have a friendly chat (part 2 of 2)

By Paul Laughlin

This post continues our focus on data leaderspresentation skills, including the ability to have a friendly chat.

In part 1 of this 2 part series, guest blogger Tony Boobier shared three aspects that presenters should not forget. They were, if you like, hygiene factors for effective presentations. Building upon the wisdom we’ve shared previously on storytelling with data & effective data visualisation.

In this concluding part, Tony shares two more hygiene factors and goes on to what can make your presentation memorable. Over to Tony to share more from his experience with presenting in businesses…

Watch your control of pace and technology

Speaking at a moderate tempo also can help, as opposed to rushing your words. Too many coffees beforehand should be avoided if you want to keep your heartbeat at a sensible rate. Similarly, the use of an overly-detailed presentation deck is best avoided. Don’t try to cram too much information into what will most probably be a shorter session. 

Having command over your technology is also a helpful attribute. Knowing how to smoothly switch between slides and your ‘talking head’ is important. It’s far too easy to forget the use of the mute button in the heat of the moment. Remember that the microphone and camera are always live, unless you can be absolutely sure of otherwise. 

These are all just hygiene factors and evidence of good virtual practice. What can we do to make a presentation really memorable?

Making your presentation memorable

At the end of the day, quality remains important, rather than necessarily quantity. Planning an appropriate message for a specific audience remains critical. Purists will also practice their presentation beforehand to ensure that the words are right and that they fit into the flow of the storyboard.

Personally, I’m not a great fan of prerecording my presentation beforehand. With some form of a trial run, there’s a temptation to be hypercritical of what you say, how you say it, and how you look. For me, pre-recording a ‘trial run’ takes away some of the spontaneity.   

What’s your gimmick/prop?

There’s no harm in having a gimmick if you feel that this is relevant and not too much of a distraction. Some years ago, I did a presentation to a Financial Services audience which compared 3 key industry imperatives to pieces of fruit in a fruit cocktail. It involved me waving a banana at the audience, hopefully not in a threatening way. It was quirky but it worked.

Some years afterwards, I was stopped by a man on the London Underground: “Aren’t you that guy who did the presentation with the fruit?” I confessed that I was, but didn’t have the time to ask him if he remembered what the presentation was all about. I hope he did and that my rather novel approach provided some key mental triggers going forward.

One final tip: Have a friendly chat

If I have one suggestion to make, then it’s probably this. Forget how many might be “dialling in” live, or how many might be listening later to a recording of the event. Remember that most of them, perhaps all of them, will be listening alone rather than as a group. It’s a little like this particular blog, it’s just you and me. 

So let’s not do a presentation, let’s just have a friendly chat. By the way, it’ll be me doing most of the talking. You can ask me some questions at the end if you would like. Otherwise, you know where to find me, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

What will you do to have a friendly chat?

Thanks, Tony, for sharing your experience and tip. I concur with the importance of connecting with people personally. Humanising your presentation to feel like a one to one conversation can be very effective. Avoiding being defensive during Q&A, plus keeping your answers brief can encourage more dialogue then too.

What about your experience as a speaker? Now Tony has finally stopped talking, what do you have to add to this chat? (Feel free to use the comment box below or reply to my posts on social media).