Magazine article New Zealand Management

Presenting to Managers: Making Your Presentation Meet Your Objectives

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Presenting to Managers: Making Your Presentation Meet Your Objectives

Article excerpt

Every presentation has an objective: perhaps to transfer information or learnings; to influence behaviour; or to sell an idea. But, for a presentation to meet its objective--whatever this might be--three things need to occur. Managers need to listen; they need to engage with the information and understand its relevance; and they need to remember it.

Oddly enough, the latest cognitive research tells us the standard corporate style of presentation--where the presenter talks to PowerPoint for 30 or 45 minutes--almost guarantees that none of these three things happen. In fact, it completely overrides the natural way people learn. As presenters, we must understand the success of our presentation doesn't just depend on the quality of our information, but also the way we present it.

How then can we present information so that it can be understood--and processed--to the point that it can be recalled and used effectively by the managers listening to the presentation?

Brain science leads us to a multitude of strategies for accomplishing this. But, for the purposes of this article, let us concentrate on two. This simple approach will tune your presentation to the learning needs of your listeners, dramatically increasing the odds that the objectives of your presentation will be met. The two-step process is this: Partition & Process. Consider each of these steps independently.

Partition: Educational research suggests that learning occurs best when new information is presented in manageable 'chunks'. For adults, the size of this chunk is smaller than many expect--about 10-15 minutes, at the maximum. Thus, the first step in making sure managers listen to your presentation is to carefully partition it into distinct sections.

If you can, try to restrict each section to a single key idea, with supporting data or examples to further illustrate the concept under discussion. This doesn't mean you can't put two, or even three, related ideas into a single partition. But keep the section focused on a central theme or point.

So, you've divided your presentation into manageable chunks, short enough to keep your listeners' attention and prevent information overload. The question now becomes, "What do I do with participants between partitions?" The answer is ...

Process: Between partitions, give your managers time to 'process' the information in the section and make their own connections with the material. …

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