Presentations that Tease

I’ve always enjoyed watching movie trailers. Sometimes the trailer in itself can be like a mini-movie. From the fade in, you begin to get set up and given a glimpse into the story, everything seems to be going well and then, with a crescendo of the music and a fade out, everything changes and you find yourself getting sucked into what you think is the plot and just when you think you have it figured out, the teaser ends and you’re left hanging, mentally panting with excitement for the movie to come out. Trailers are designed to do exactly that. And its all in the presentation skill put into its making.

Most presentation experts say that if you don’t have your audience within the first 3 minutes you’ve already lost them. And in a digital age of social media and Internet enabled devices, where information can be accessed and shared within seconds, the attention span of the average person only keeps shrinking. This can be a daunting thought when it is ‘you’ walking into a room to give a presentation. You know you have only seconds to make a good impression and minutes to make your point. What in heaven’s name is one going to say that will grab the audience’s attention! Well there are a few tricks to presentation skills that can come in handy when you find yourself on the spot. Here are some:

  1. Provocative start – Within print media, it is probably newspapers and magazines that have mastered the art of grabbing your attention with a provocative title in bold. Even if you realized that the article was not worth the paper it was printed on, the tactic still worked because it got you to read the headline! This is a strategy that can be used with presentations too. Starting with a slide or an opening line that is shocking, provocative or unbelievable will usually get your listener’s attention. Unpredictability can be the best bait.
  2. Humor – Nothing relaxes a crowd of listeners more than a well-timed joke or humorous story. Sociologists and psychologists have proven this time and again. Slipping in a good dose of the smiles or giggles usually help to lighten the mood in the room, let the guards slip down a bit and break any apprehensive ice that might have been there to start with. Moreover it simply changes the way the audience looks at you and that can make a big difference.
  3. Rhetorical questions – Most people don’t need to process much when they’re listening to a statement. But neuroscientists have proven that when a question is asked, a whole new part of the cerebral cortex lights up because the brain is pondering over the validity of the question and possible decision it needs to come to regarding the situation ( refer: The Neuroscience of Decision Making). This happens even when an answer is not expected of the person questioned. Philosophers have known this for millennia. Well-placed rhetorical questions can engage the listener and make him or her ‘own’ the sentiments or thoughts being provoked.

Presentation Skills Training  can be one of the most valuable tools that can be given to someone that will equip him or her for success in many avenues of their professional lives. Here is a link to another resource on Presentation Skills : The Zen of powerful Presentation Skills


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