Trainer Blog - Presentation Skills Part 2
Posted on 10:02am Tuesday 1st Nov 2011
Presentation Skills Part 2
If you watch the BBC news you will see a perfect model of how to structure a presentation. They start by telling the viewer what is in the news, they then tell the viewer what the news is, and then recap the headlines before closing the programme. When I first learnt to teach my director of studies told us “you should tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you have told them, then get off, and that is exactly what the BBC do.
However in a lesson situation some form of introduction should come right at the beginning, before anything else. If you are sitting down watching the news, you have a good idea what is to follow. In a presentation situation that may not be the case, so it is important for the person giving the presentation a bit of a heads up about what to expect. I was told the Introduction should be like a baby alligator, short and snappy, something that really struck a chord with me and I have consequently passed on to every group of trainers I have taught, or developed. Your introduction also needs to be relevant to your subject matter making your audience want to stay to listen to you. Once you have done the Introduction you then need to follow the same structure as they do on the news.
That first phase in the BBC structure is called the Gestault or the Lesson Scope, and really is the route map for the presentation. Think just for a moment about how you would feel if you set off on a journey and don’t know where you are going to go, or how you are going to get there. It would feel very uncomfortable and that is how the delegates at your presentation would feel if you didn’t share with them your plan. Keep it short, just bullet points, and only the really important ones.
Once you get into the body of your presentation, structure it so that you don’t just keep on doing the same thing. By that I mean don’t just keep on talking, do something to change the activity. I have seen some truly dreadful presentations over the years including a very prominent doctor who read pages and pages direct from PowerPoint to his audience while facing the screen. I will talk more about visual aids and how to avoid death by PowerPoint later on in this series.
What exactly do I mean by changing the activity? It is my understanding that after a maximum of 12 minutes of the same thing our brain goes walk about. What can you do to avoid Brain Drift in your audience? Stand up, sit down, change the slide, show a film, start a discussion, it matters not what you do, as long as it is different. Then you can go on as long as you wish and command the full attention of your audience, but only as long as you regularly change the activity to keep their attention.
Recently I did some staff development work with a local Further Education college. In order to illustrate this very point I started the session with a discussion aimed at helping me establish their levels of knowledge, and did so sitting on the edge of the desk at the front of the room. After about ten minutes of question, answer, and discussion I raised my voice, stood and walked right to the centre of the room. During a short break I glanced at the note book of one of the delegates who had written ‘I must try standing up occasionally.’ It did have a real impact and it is a very simple thing to do, change the activity.
It is really important that you illustrate your talk, but the illustration should support or compliment what it is you are saying, not take it over. Think back to the BBC news, what do they show if there is a train drivers strike. More often than not, we know see a train coming in to a platform. Hands up if you don’t know what a train looks like! So why do they do it? Because however good he is, it is more attention grabbing than 30 minutes of the news anchor man just talking. There is a second reason; a good illustration accompanying the words plants the learning more firmly in the brain of the listener than just words.
Why do you need to then ‘Tell them what you told them’? Because it reaffirms the learning and puts it firmly in the long term memory and ties the whole lot up into a nice neat package. Besides it is much better to teach a lesson with an end, than to get to the end and just say “Right there you are, off you go.”
So to conclude....what should you do here? Wrap up the whole presentation with some well chosen impactive words to reinforce your message. This all means that if you have an hour to make your presentation, you don’t really have an hour, you have about 50 minutes, once you take off the time for the Introduction, The Gestault, and the Conclusion.
If you would like to learn more about Presentation Skills Executive Guidance are offering a full two day course starting at 09.30hrs on Tuesday 13th December 2011 held at our lovely modern training facility in Camberley. Book your place by using the Contact Us page on this web-site.