Whenever I deliver training programmes it’s always lovely to be invited back to the organisation to see how the participants have put the learning from our workshop into practice. Last week I revisited a group who had attended a ‘Putting A Presentation Together’ workshop earlier in the year. The purpose of my visit was to observe their presentations, offer feedback and discuss with them how their first attempts felt like to me the audience and what improvements they might like to make.
They were excellent. Well structured, packed with information and their enthusiasm for the topic and their role shone through – until we got to the end. Each of them delivered a little summary covering all their key points and all of them finished with that ubiquitous slide ‘Any Questions.’
The problem is most of us don’t think of questions until after we leave a seminar or presentation. Sometimes we are given so much information we need time to digest it and then relate to our experience before we can begin to ask for more.
Asking for questions implies we may have forgotten why we gave the presentation. – Is it in fact to just to be there to answer questions? Unlikely.
So let us return to the purpose of the talk? And who are audience are? And what we want them to do as a result of listening to us. If we turn the speech on its head and start with the end how would it look like then?
What do we want from the audience? If it’s to buy into our proposal, then we should be telling them how they can do that. Do you want them to attend an open day or sign up for a course, or commission some consultancy work?
Never forget the next action is only obvious to you. It may not be quite so clear to your audience.
My group are selling a 6th form college to school children and their parents – not a group who respond well to being invited to ask questions but very open to you spelling out how they can sign up and join in the fun.
By rewriting the slide to say ‘Next Steps,’ you are in a whole new situation with a higher chance of getting the action you want from your audience. Remember when you next prepare a presentation never lose sight of the reason for giving the talk.