Simon Clayton departs from the group discussion mentality
I’ve attended a lot of presentations at events over the years and it seems the definition of a presentation is increasingly getting lost somewhere.
I’m seeing an increasing number of presentations that have a brief introduction and then the speaker tells the audience to get into groups and discuss the topic.
Do people attending these sessions want this? I believe they want to hear an expert tell them things about a subject that they didn’t know and to provide them with ideas and data that they couldn’t get anywhere else.
Great presentations are those with clear objectives and strong content. In a number of surveys, attendees have consistently rated content as the most important factor in a conference programme.
Unfortunately, I’ve paid to attend some conferences where the content was all banal platitudes and I definitely won’t be paying to go to those again. An audience should leave the talk feeling like they’re taking something valuable and useful away with them.
Audience questions are always useful, but they should be an opportunity to find out what the expert thinks is the answer – not a debate by the person next to you who may be completely unqualified to offer an opinion – yet will anyway!
Too much interaction and we stray into the definition of a meeting, which is almost certainly not what your attendees signed up for.
If a level of audience participation has to occur (and remember those attending the presentation often want to remain anonymous), there are ways of easily gathering feedback in real time with apps or voting keypads.
Truly great presenters are few and far between, but an organiser needs to strive to find those people because they will transform the conference.