Archives: March 2006
Fri Mar 24, 2006
You Present More Than You Realize
In the process of helping professionals transform themselves into more effective communicators during the past twenty years, my greatest obstacle has been the misconception people labor under concerning the role and nature of presentations in their professional lives. The most common myth is “I don’t give presentations.”
If you believe this, you need to expand your thinking about what constitutes a “presentation.” Presentations come in many more varieties than the formal situation that usually comes to mind. In many capacities and in different settings, we are called upon to share our ideas and beliefs with others. You are presenting when you are: More...
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Fri Mar 10, 2006
Avoiding The Infodump
We’ve all seen it. A speaker thoroughly familiar with his or her product gives a presentation filled with information about the history of the product, the development of the product, how it is used, and a list of ten nifty features. But at the end of the presentation, we’re left wondering what the point was.
That describes “infodumping.” It’s the verbal equivalent of email spam.
It happens for lots of reasons:
1.A speaker is more focused on features than benefits, so the presentation becomes the reciting of a list.
2.The speaker doesn’t know which information is most important and includes everything that’s available.
3.The speaker hasn’t identified a desired outcome, and consequently can’t choose the information necessary to achieve his or her goal.
4.The speaker ignores or misjudges the audience’s familiarity with the topic and provides lots of information without the context to make it meaningful.
5.The speaker assumes the more communication the better.
There is a principle in economics that applies equally well to communication. It’s called the point of diminishing returns. Simply put, it means more of something is better only up to a point. Once you reach a certain threshold, adding more of something leads to diminishing returns. It’s true with almost any element of a presentation. Some humor is good, but too much turns the presentation into a stand-up comedy routine. Some visuals help reinforce ideas, but too many leads to overwhelming the audience.
Are you faced with a mountain of data and can’t decide how much information should you include? Use this test: After you’ve identified a desired outcome for the presentation, ask yourself if the information you are considering will help you achieve your objective. If it will, include it. If it won’t, exclude it. It sounds simple, but it takes discipline and a clear focus on outcomes.
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