Presenting is all about ‘building bridges’


During the last years I have visited several international conferences. Good agenda, good locations, interesting presentation titles. But what happened sometimes, already after two, three slides offered by a presenter, I got tired and bored. Not necessarily, because the presenters had nothing to tell, but simply due to the fact that the type of presentation and the content shown was very ecocentric. They were that much involved in their own tasks, that they forgot about their audience. They showed their expertise, but forgot to ‘sell’. This means it had nothing or only partly to do with my own work. I simply lost the ‘connection’ and motivation to listen. I did not feel involved and questioned or challenged in what I had in mind. The best outcome was often a few key messages around generic trends to take home which I could have learned also just by reading some good articles. Sometimes I started to take some notes, too, but I never looked at them later on. I did not really know what to do with them.

So, what? I asked myself which kind of presentations really were exciting and why. This is what I have learned from really impressive speakers: they

  • explain some basics for making sure they are understood. They know that there are people in the room who are not that much experienced in the issue they are going to talk about.they manage expectations.
  • do not talk about their specific results, but they take their learnings, present them shortly and dedicate most of their time to ‘build bridges’ to the people in the room. They aim to go “where their audience is”.
  • show the meaning and impact their topic could have on third parties, less the single achievements they have made in their own company
  • share some thoughts on possible outcomes in other areas than just their owns
  • envision where this approach could lead to in the next years
  • list clearly the benefits and advantages of what they present
  • keep it as simple as possible – just, because they are experts they should know how to make it understandable and attractive
  • ask questions directed to the audience, they make sure that they get it
  • have fun elements integrated into their presentation
  • have rather a limited number of slides. The slides are not overloaded
  • use attractive, surprising digital or multimedia elements
  • are great storytellers
  • avoid or at least explain specific wording
  • Well, knowing that these kind of presenters are going to talk I would stay there for hours and listen.

    And by the way, I think these are always relevant ingredients when two different ‘worlds’ , eg. business people / social entrepreneurs meet. It is all about building bridges where both parties can walk on.

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