Point to Ponder: In any performance, whether it be a drama or a business presentation, having content knowledge is imperative. However, after that, what differentiates great performances from mediocre ones is your choreography.
Story Line: Using the "associate" technique from our out of the box thinking (OBT) class, one can think of many analogies between drama performances and business presentations. A person is performing on some stage, in front of some audience, telling some story with a key message, in a certain amount of time.
The success of your event depends on, in dramatic terms, how well choreographed is your show?
1. Great performers and effective presenters know in advance how the show should end. They visualize the outcome right at onset. What do they want the audience to go out with (i.e. the key message), how is the audience going to feel at the end of the performance?
2. In great shows, the stage is set from the very beginning. The opening act sets the tone for the rest of the performance. Your audience should know what it going to get (see: #1 above) right from the start. If this is done properly, you often find the rest of the show takes care of itself.
3. Similar to a drama, you have to cut a lot out, so that you have a crisp script. However, the information/props that you don't use will often turn out to be very useful in future shows.
4. Content is very important, but how it is presented is even more important. Just like the quality of the props can dramatically alter the perception of a drama, presentations are often perceived to be more credible if they use fonts that are pleasing, colors that are soothing, plenty of open space, and meaningful pictures and charts.
5. Bring your audience with you. A story without a clear narrative structure is often frustrating to an audience. Same thing goes with presentations. If interesting (but unrelated) information/acts are thrown in for no good reason, the attention of the audience gets diverted ... and soon people are nit-picking. (Handy Hint)
6. Practice, Practice, Practice. While taking a shower, driving to work, or standing in front of a mirror ... imagine the audience, you presenting, their response and the stage of climax. Good preparation and practice helps in dealing with different situations that arise during the actual presentation.
Reflection: Again, for any great performance, the performer has to be very good in content knowledge. However, all through my career, I have observed that even those people who claim to be "all about data" seem to respond much better to well choreographed presentations. And as they have moved up the ranks, their own presentations are better choreographed as well. I wonder how?
Thanks to Zeva Cho and Neil Simpson, two master choreographers for many tips and help through the years.
Handy Hint: In good presentations, details are backed up through links and called upon only when necessary. This allows the performer/presenters to keep control over the sequence, time and overall message, and engage the audience in a constructive dialogue. (Tip Five)