- Set the tone of your presentation. People walk in wondering if they are in the right place and whether or not this is going to be beneficial or not. Music does a good job of setting the tone when people arrive. Also, add humor to your presentation. I am not saying that you should be a stand-up comedian because that sends the message of "I am silly and what I am saying is not all that important." However, when you add humor to the beginning and people get a chuckle, their brains release endorphines that help them connect with you and become engaged in what you are saying.
- Streamline your presentation. Slides with too many words or images takes the focus off of what you are saying. If someone cannot easily read or see what you have on a slide from the back of a ballroom, do not include it. The slide/image is there to support what you are saying. It is giving the attendees a visual or a graphic that will help your message stick in their brains.
- Be prepared. Time is one of our most valuable commodities. How many of us have sat through "death by PowerPoint" presentations where the presenter read off of the screen? How much did you learn or remember about what they said? If you are going to speak, prepare a presentation where your expertise is the focus. You are the expert. Practice your presentation and prepare for tech malfunctions. Could you do your presentation without your slides? If not, then you are not prepared enough to speak as an expert. Here's what works for me: I have a pretty good memory, but I am not memorizing a script....especially for those 6 hour workshops. My presentations have graphics. With each graphic, I learn key phrases that I want to say within the point. Practice makes it flow easily for me when I am in front of an audience.
- Provide resources. Everyone wants to leave with something, but let's be honest about handouts. We get a paper handout, it goes home in our conference bag, and then it sits in the hall closet until we get rid of it a couple of years later. We live in a digital world so we need to provide our attendees with access to resources digitally. There are so many ways to share information in our world...blogs, websites, DropBox, Evernote, wikis, Facebook, etc. Most people now attend with a smart phone, laptop, or tablet. You can give them instant access to your resources and save them from lugging around the paper version.
- Accurately name your session. We have all attended sessions based on their title and then come to realize that the session was nothing like what the title indicated. You want the people in your session to know what you are going to present about so that you have the right audience for your message. Don't worry if there are only a couple of people there. Those are the people who need to hear your expertise. If one person walks away with something that makes them a better educator, your presentation was a success.
- Listen and engage participants. As teachers we know that one of the least effective teaching strategies is straight lecture. Yet, you see educators doing this in presentations. The active participation strategies that work in your classroom with students will work those in attendance at your session. Facilitate conversations in your sessions, get them actively engaged, and remember it is about THEIR learning. Your goal needs to be to let them learn from your experiences. We know that the brain learns best when it is active in a fun and relevant manner. Don't forget to add that into your session.
- P.S. They're looking at you. You are there to share your expertise with other educators. Although we have always heard that we "don't judge a book by its cover," let's face it, we do. When people first see you, they are going to make a judgment about your ability to lead professional learning. Flip flops and vendor T-shirts do not instill a lot of confidence in your professional credibility. They want to know that they are not wasting their time by staying in your session. If they walk in and you look like your going to the ballpark or making a quick run to the grocery store, they are less likely to stay or open their mind to learning what you are sharing. (see Because Books are Sometimes Judged by Their Covers by Amanda Dykes).
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Top Seven "Forget-Me-Not" Presentation Practices
Pay It Forward: 5.1 Ways to Share Your Expertise, I mentioned ways that we can guide our colleagues into sharing their teaching successes and experiences. Not one of us can claim to be where we are as educators without the assistance of others; it is important to give back to the educational community. Once teachers begin to feel comfortable sharing their best practices, the next progression is to present at a conference. The teacher who had asked for my advice in the previous post asked for some tips in creating an engaging presentation. Here are my top seven "forget-me-not" presentation practices.