Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Don't think - the key to engaging presentations

Don't think - the key to engaging presentations...

By Mark Helfen

The key idea to an effective presentation is that you don’t want your audience to think.

Or so says Fabian Venter, who will be speaking on Presenting in a “Wired” World at the next SVForum MarketingSIG, on Monday September 10, at our usual EMC location.

I spoke to him a few days ago about his upcoming presentation.

Venter is founder of Presentography, a consulting firm that helps people who deliver presentations  to quickly get to “yes.” His peripatetic past includes living (in alphabetical order) in Asia, Australia, Europe, and now the United States. South America is in his sights. So his experience is broad both in terms of successful presentations and in geography.

Given the deluge of information coming at people, or at least the fire hose of distracting data, people are pretty quick to tune out one more listing of bare facts. His definition of a presentation includes not only the sales person speaking to a group, but just about any meeting where you want your message to be remembered.

The problem is that the high volume communications age has re-wired people brains with a shortened attention span. If you have ever taught a class where all of the students have an open laptop and a Wi-Fi connection, you’ve seen the effect – people drift away very quickly.

Venter’s methodology is designed to overcome this modern “attention deficit,” by engaging your audience’s emotional brain with a narrative – a story with a beginning, middle and end. By “softening” your data, you can get your message into the “long term” parts of your audience’s brain where it is more likely to be remembered.

Your talk should “not be data driven, but emotionally driven,” according to Venter. That’s the idea behind “don’t think.” The objective is to engage your audience, bypassing the factual, rational left brain. Your listeners enter an “altered state” hearing your narrative.

According to Venter, anyone can present, even if you’re shy or scared. “Everyone has the ability to share a story.”

 “There is no formula for success,” but you will learn some tricks and techniques to help increase engagement and minimize your audience’s drifting attention.

So come by Monday, and learn how to tell your story.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

He can be reached at: mhelfen@wordpixel.com
Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/markhelfen
Facebook: facebook.com/mark.helfen
Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mark_helfen