Jun 30, 2009

Dramatize your presentations

My experience teaches me that presentations that are dramatic do well. Before I share with you why, let me define what I mean by drama.

Drama would mean creating some curiosity or suspense or humor. Something like a play or a movie.
Ideally at the start and only in presentations which are not formal. You cannot dramatize a quarterly review presentation. Can you?

This month I gave 3 presentations to a group of 24 interns (if you have been following my blog you would already know I recruited these MBA interns and am getting some work done from them for my company). These 3 presentations were for the weekly review of their performance, collecting feedback and motivating them. Formal situation but required humor and there was a strong need to connect with the interns. To motivate as well as to make them comfortable.


The presentations were well received. The measure of success being the active audience participation and the fact that no one dozed off! (the review presentation used to be post market working when people were pretty tired).


There was something I did in every presentation. I gave every presentation a dramatic start.


Presentation 1. Image of Mahatma Gandhi's 3
monkeys
Presentation 2. Image of
Sri Yantra with 4 numbers written on the four edges
Presentation 3. A
scatter plot (with only dots and no x & y axes)

Every presentation started with an image. And this image used to be there from the start. While the students were entering the hall, were settling down. It was there staring at their face, making them think about it, discuss with each other trying to figure it out.


Day 1
.
They did not even know what it all was. Seeing the three monkeys they just laughed. But when I started my presentation, I talked about the 3 monkeys, asked them what they were doing on my slides. The 3 monkeys are supposed to 'see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil'. I asked them not be like the famous monkeys and to actually speak out everything in the 'feedback' session.

Day 2
was when they came across the Sri Yantra. Hardly any one knew what it was. The numbers at the edges made them make a lot of guesses but none were right. The numbers represented there were indicators of how the best and the worst students were doing in the project. Best and worst students and two parameters of evaluation. Hence the 4 numbers.

Day 3
. A seasoned audience knew something would be on the slides again. They put their best fight to explain what it was. One came close and won a chocolate from me as well. But none could guess. Then I completed the chart, added the axes, put labels and went on to explain that the 24 dots resembled their performance on a 3rd evaluation parameter of the project.

These presentations taught me an important lesson. The importance of dramatizing a presentation and that too right at the start.

Honestly the first day was lucky for me. I put the image because I wanted to tell them not to keep their mouths closed and tell me how they were doing, what problems they were facing. It worked. And post that, I used an image in the next two presentations.

The reason it clicked was that every image was related to the theme of the day. Something that I wanted to discuss and something that was very important.

Day 1: Do not keep your mouths closed and speak out.
Day 2: Improve your numbers. Increase your performance.
Day 3: In chasing numbers do not lose sight of productivity (quality).

Obviously the choice of image matters and I did choose good images. But what matters more is the connect. The images gave me a platform to create enough drama at the start. Got the audience involved and all ears. And then I drove the point into their minds.

If you want to give a dramatic start to your presentation, try this out. First choose whats the most important thing you want to focus on. What's the so called theme of the day. Then choose a good image which creates enough curiosity. It should not be so obvious that you kill the suspense. Then add a bit of drama in your voice and body language and pull it off!

You will feel a lot better about life. Trust me.
Wish you luck!