In the Flow Presentations

Ever feel as though you are the only one who has enjoyed the flow of your topic? After stepping away from your audience, if people say to you, “I can tell you enjoy presenting,” think about whether you let them enjoy your topic too.

One of the things I have learned as a presenter is the Rule of Thirds. It came to me years after I had first stepped into high school classroom training, but just soon enough to make a difference for my adult audiences. It has to do with adult learning styles. We adults learn based on three different things.

Rule of Thirds for Adult Learning

  1.  One third of what we learn comes from the presenter
  2.  Another third comes from our own experiences
  3.  Final third comes from the perspective and experiences of those gathered with us

The presenter
Jessica Stillman’s article, Hit the Sweet Spot, printed today in Inc, centers around audience attention span. In this article Jessica suggests how to manage breaks within your presentation based on audience memory and retention. Good as a rule of thumb for managing breaks when breaks are physically possible, there are also times when the complete cutting off from the content and message are not appropriate.

Instead, I suggest shifting the focus from information delivery to activity or exercises designed to enhance it and maintain the flow of the presentation. Here’s what I mean.

As a presenter, I know that if I am given 60 minutes for my topic, I will prepare 20 minutes of content. With this plan, I can easily go deep with narrowly focused content by deferring time to the audience to experience the concepts and apply the process. When doing so, I am staying in the flow with structured, focused material and letting the audience experience the flow as well. That’s my job as a presenter. To let everyone be in the flow.

Personal experience from audience
Many presenters seek feedback from audience members. This step is different. Give your audience time to reflect. I speak to audiences on behalf of celebrating the communication style of introverts. In keeping with my topics, the majority of my audiences are introverts.

For me to get feedback from introverts, I need to warm them up a bit. So I may simply share a personal story in my topic, whether it’s on presenting, networking or following through with promises I make. Whichever my communication topic, they have a “case” to tap into. From there, my goal is to relate to them and their circumstances, get their heart pumping, their mind engaged and get them thinking about how they have handled similar situations.

At that point I can have them reflect, alone. In their heads. I will actually take the time for them to do so. Within 2-3 minutes their minds are now purposefully focused on how the topic is relevant to them. I will prod them to take notes of these thoughts for us to make use of later, and this, by activity, gives them a break and gives me a break. Yet the flow of the topic has continued.

Experiences of Others
So often when audiences attend our talks, they come ready to learn something. Maybe they think their circumstances are different from others. They may think they are not capable of what we will be suggesting. Yet if we allow them to connect to their own experiences and then to allow those around them in the audience to share personal experiences, the individuals in our audiences suddenly open their eyes.

They see they are not unique in their circumstances or in their abilities or in their challenges. They gain comfort in hearing what they experience is not unusual. Suddenly they feel connected to people like themselves and no longer feel insecure.

When we let our audience not only hear from us, and not only tap into their own experiences, but we let them also hear from the experiences of others, we give them the complete adult learning experience. We allow them to think. We provide time for them to reflect. Then when they are fully engaged, we let them express their experiences and opinions to small groups of those around them.

In the flow presentations make effective use of all three of these elements. It creates a break in focus type, it helps your audience personally connect and then allows all present to get a sense of how the audience collectively stands with the topic. Whether your audiences are dominated by introverts or extroverts, this process is effective. Using these 3 steps not only in the problem-identification stage but also in the solution application stage creates the best presentation experience.

When is your next speaking gig? Discover the time alotted, then begin applying the Rule of Thirds. You will find you have much less content to prepare. You will open your creative valve of how to use the second and third pieces and you will feel so much more in the flow! Better yet, so will your audience!

Now you may hear comments like, “I so enjoyed exploring this.” or “I can’t wait to start applying…” The presentation is not just about you. It’s about designing a flow everyone present can experience.

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On April 3rd, 2012, posted in: in the flow, introverts by