Should you rise to the occasion?

Stand or sit
I sometimes wonder if it is better to stand or sit while presenting. This week I had an experience which answered the question. I gave (basically) the same presentation three times in one day to two different audiences, in two different settings.

The first two presentations were given in a staff lunch room, there were approximately 10 people in each group.  The goal was to introduce new technologies.  I did the two presentations while standing; standing worked well for this audience and setting.

The third presentation was given at a restaurant, to three physicians. The presentation was basically the same content; however I decided to sit while giving this presentation.  We had an additional goal for this session: to discover whether the new technologies would be a good fit with the physicians’ current and future practice.  This presentation ended up being more of a discussion; sitting worked well for this audience and setting.

Experts say that standing while presenting sends the non-verbal message that you are the expert, while sitting sends the non-verbal message that you are a colleague or team member.  Standing gives you more authority and control; I think this is the way to go if the main goal of your presentation is to deliver information.  When sitting you lose some control but the audience seems to open up more for discussion.

You can make the decision to “stand and deliver” or “sit and discuss” based on the audience, audience size, setting (it would be hard to “sit” in a lecture theatre), and of course the goal of the presentation.

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring

How is your storytelling?

story

I just returned from a 3 day meeting in Orlando.  Over 3000 people attended and, as you would expect, there were lots of presentations.

The presentations were like most presentations, but I noticed something interesting. Many of the presentations contained a story, and the stories had a noticeable effect on the audience. Whenever a presenter started a story, the audience got quiet and were more focused on the presenter. Everyone was more engaged.

The stories that were most engaging had common elements; they were about a specific person and a specific place and time. The best stories had a direct emotional link to the presenter’s message and were brief and concise.

The basic elements of this “springboard” type story are described in The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling – Mastering the Art and discipline of the Business Narrative by Stephen Denning (www.stevedenning.com).  Denning defines a springboard story as one crafted to “communicate a complex new idea and ignite action to implement it”.

Some of Denning’s springboard story elements include:

–  Having a single protagonist

–  Specifying the date and place

–  Stripping the story of any unnecessary detail

–  Linking the story to the reason for telling it

–  Using phrases like, “what if”, “just imagine”, or ”just think”

Denning gives many examples and suggests more elements for great business storytelling in his book. I think that if you use at least a few of these basic elements your storytelling will be better and your presentations will be more engaging.

Isn’t engaging your audience and igniting some action what presenting is all about?

Joe Pops

Refuse to be boring