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sticky buns

 

One of the axioms about great presentation skills is to “make it sticky”

 

Sounds good, but how? Here are four of tried-and-true strategies (the “application” part is how I say it – you can adapt to your style!).

 

1. Get people talking

People remember most of what they say, versus what the presenter says

Application: “Take 3 minutes, turn to the person next to you and share one thing that stands out so far”

 

2. Evoke disagreement

Critical analysis often means criticism – ideas don’t stick if a person hasn’t had a chance to integrate within existing knowledge, assumptions, worldview

Application: “Write down one concern, question or skeptical comment or idea about what I’ve been saying”

 

3. Initiate a “Teach Back”

No matter how much knowledge/skills/expertise I might have started with, anything I’ve ever had to teach forced me to learn more deeply.

Application: “Find someone you haven’t spoken to yet and teach them ___ (concept, skill, approach, etc.)

 

4. Bridge the Gap

Don’t be afraid to assign homework.

Application: “Before you go to sleep tonight, write down three things that you are going to practice or do differently based on the work we’ve done here today…and put them on your computer screen/refrigerator/other.”

 

Last week I was asked to facilitate a workshop for a diverse group of community health and counselling providers. The organizers asked for an outline of the proposed session as well as an overview of a subsequent follow-up session to help ensure uptake and implementation. In other words, why invest in staff training if there’s no traction over the longer term?

 

The research/education/practice gap is undeniably tough to bridge, and follow-up coaching and training certainly helps increase adoption and skill development. But in my mind, every presentation is an important opportunity to foster motivation for change – with or without follow-up.

cogs and wheels

It’s often good to follow your own advice

Last Friday I presented to a group of health practitioners (registered dietitians) at their annual conference. The topic was “presentation skills” – an important element of their professional practice, as dietitians frequently work with various client goups experiencing complex and challenging health conditions. They are not just presenting information. It’s more about inspiring and motivating health behaviour change when the stakes are high.

I have always found that ‘presenting about presenting’ poses a particular set of mental challenges. Audience expectations are generally higher than the norm and my expectations of myself are correspondingly escalated. I have to keep reminding myself of the axiom that any presentation needs to feel more like a conversation than a performance. That means focusing on the audience’s learning needs, goals, and practice challenges, as opposed to my own ‘performance’.

And mirroring the dietitians’ clinical practice with groups, the information that I shared was nowhere near the most important part. (There’s a whole library of books written on presenting and facilitating, covering more content and in greater depth than any 45 minute talk could ever do justice to.) Sparking some lively critical reflection and dialogue (internal and external) about the pitfalls and best practices for us all to pay attention to when presenting to groups was the most meaningful part of the session.

It’s often effective to follow one’s own advice, and happily I was able to come reasonably close to putting into practice the four themes of my session:

1. Stop performing

2. Engage everyone

3. Transform your slides

4. Make it sticky.

OK, maybe I didn’t engage absolutely everyone – but on my way out of the room the A/V guy did give a big thumbs-up, and let’s just say that hasn’t been a uniform experience. I say, gather your nuggets where you find them!

acorn in forest

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