Sunday, February 13, 2011

The "Wow" Effect

On my pursuit to research on my next presentation on "What makes Great Presentation", I found the web to be a zillion-gallon full of good resources on the topic. Everybody has a say on what makes a great presentation work. Thanks to what now we know as "Apple-era". Steve Jobs has epitomized the fact that the future belongs to the right part of your brain. Not that the left is not required, but its not the only one. For people unaware of what the previous lines meant, the truth stands : Logic is not enough, Creativity is the next frontier. "A whole new mind" by Daniel H. Pink speaks a length about it. 
Irrespective of the fact that the web is full of great wisdom about "Presentation / Speaker skill", I still crave for speakers who can blow my mind. Be it conferences, corporate presentations, or trade seminars - there are same people. People who understand and appreciate the "right brain", have access to the great depth of "Web knowledge" on what needs to be done - but in the end, they are waiting for the "Tipping point". 
Here is what I have learnt from the opportunities to listen and experience the "Wow" speakers, and use this consciously and some times in a manner that surprises me long after the talk is over :-

1) Surprise the audience
  • People love surprises. Surprises that don't hurt, but the ones that they can cherish long after the talk is over
  • Incorporating surprises : The best thing that works for me is the subtle pause once a while, or a two way interaction with the audience
  • Surprise humor works as well
2) Audience is intelligent, and they need a massage once a while to prove that they are intelligent
  • Never underestimate the audience. 
  • They love as much being appreciated and "massaged" for their intelligence, as much they hate being told that they are foolish

3) Connecting the dots 
  • Ideas that need to be communicated in steps, need to repeated
  • People need to have the big picture all the time in their head
  • In the heat of the content, people may loose the focus on the big agenda, so repetition never huts, however a balance is more than necessary
  • In explaining a complex scenery, I tend to always come back to the big picture because sometimes we get so deep and covered in the finer nuances that we loose out the 20000 feet view

4) The "Energy" is the suit for all seasons
  • Wear the suit of energy : I believe energy flows from the speaker to the audience, and a reciprocation flames it more
  • Energy does not always mean shouting loud, jumping around the stage
  • Being passionate about it also means energetic

5) Lateral thinking helps
  • Communicating ideas require connecting existing idea to the new idea, sometimes those ideas could be unrelated
  • Be aware of not just what you know about the topic, but everything and anything
  • Its a never bad idea to ride on the existing ideas that worked - be it films, culture, current affairs

6) Overconfidence hurts like a bad ego
  • You may not know it all, but you don't need to be all knowing
  • Don't force your ideas on the audience 
  • If nothing works, leave it at nothing 

7) Reading helps. Full Stop. 

The above ideas resonate with me all the time, and has helped me to shape up my talk, and my presentation each day. And like any art, its a work in progress.

So go out, make the "Wow you audience" your mantra.