The new year is a fine time to resolve to advance your presentation skills. If you’ve been presenting to groups for decades, take the time to listen to what your audiences are telling you this month and in the months ahead. They’re not your father’s seat warmers.
Chance are that, whether you are presenting to a class of college freshmen, a conference of marketing execs, a technology trade show group or even moms-with-a-mission, many members of your audience will be tweeting and blogging as you speak. By the time you’re done, you’re done–or, alternatively, a success.
Therefore, as you gather contact information from those attending your presentations, ask for their Twitter handles and blog URLs, along with their e-mail addresses. Then monitor what they have had to say about you, as soon as you’re out of the room. It may be painful, but it’s the best critique you can get.
Also keep in mind that PowerPoint bullets may be deadly if the caliber of your presentation is not raised at least with real images (no more Mr. Bean clipart) and preferably video clips. To your audience, a screen now is a place to project motion and sound, ingenuity and pop culture.
Finally, think about getting off the freakin’ stage and down with your “peeps” so you present from your audience as an expert peer–a maven or influencer, in the current argot. They’re not going to listen to one-way, top-down communications anymore. The 2010s will be interactive, one-to-one and niche, rather than highly produced, mass and generic.
Just as marketers have had to place control of their brands in the hands of consumers, thanks to social media, you need to place your presentation power in the hands of your audiences. Join them, lead them, respond to them, enlighten them, and your brand as a presenter will be awesome.