Quite often when people talk about presentations they talk about the need to be engaging, amusing, and informative, or they talk about the need to use storytelling, visualisation, and performance skills. Whilst all of these have their place, for market researchers and insight professionals these factors only address the symptoms rather than the core need.
Market researchers and insight professionals give presentations for a reason, and in most cases the reason is to debrief a project or to pitch for a project. These presentations are not for entertainment (even though they should seek to be entertaining), these presentations are not just a ritual (although there are some elements of a presentation that should almost always be there). These presentations are there to achieve a business purpose, they need to be effective.
What is an effective presentation? I think there are three key outcomes that define an effective presentation:
- They should make the audience want to hear from you again.
- They should communicate the key points you want to make.
- They should result in action.
Making the audience want to hear from you again
This is where things like engaging, timely, visual, amusing all come into play. As a presenter you want to develop your business relationship and you want future presentations to be effective. The best way of making future presentations effective is to make people want to attend your presentations. It is getting harder and harder to get senior client-side people to attend debrief meetings, if they know you are going to be engaging, informative, and timely they will be more likely to attend.
Communicate the key points
Communication is not about what messages you are sending, it is about what is received. There is a limit to how much new stuff the audience can take on board in any one meeting. You need to design the presentation so the key points are understood and remembered. Things like engagement are only useful if they help communicate the key ideas – games such as word bingo can reduce the ability of the audience to receive and internalise the key messages. An effective presentation builds in processes to check what has been received and understood, not just what has been said/shown.
Result in action
At a conference or in education the purpose of a presentation can be to inform the audience, in a theatre or after dinner the purpose of a presentation can be solely to entertain. However, in business, an effective presentation results in action. Sometimes that action might be to move forward with a project, sometimes it might be to find out further information, sometimes that action might be to cancel a project. An effective presenter ensures that the presentation can result in action and should follow-up to check what if any actions have happened. Sometimes it is necessary to give further input to ensure action happens.
Secrets of Effective Presentations
Very few presentations are effective. Very few of the engaging/entertaining presentations are actually effective. This is because they are not often designed with effectiveness as their key goal and sole reason – this is why I am talking about the secrets of effective presentations.
At the Singapore MRMW I am running a workshop on how to create and deliver effective workshops. If you are able to attend you can find out more by visiting the MRMW page, and you can get a 15% discount by using the code POSTE2014.
I will be making this material more generally available later in the year. Please let me know if you’d like to know more about effective presentations.