Shut Up! — Business Presentations
For most 10-20 minute business presentations, you don’t have much time, so every moment must count. But at some point in your career, you may be asked to lead a seminar that is three hours in length or even longer. You can not prepare the same way as you do a normal speech. It’s not that giving a three hour seminar is 9 times harder than giving a 20 minute speech. Each type of presentation is a different beast.
When you are conducting a seminar, you must give your participants a lot more to do than simply sit there and look at you. You must engage them with actions, exercises, activity and motion. Otherwise, they will fall asleep.
The biggest temptation for a seminar (one I succumbed to early in my career) is to lecture for three hours. This is the hardest thing to do, but also the easiest thing to do. It’s easy because it is highly predictable and easy for you to control the process and outcome. Sadly, one likely outcome is that your audience will not take away a new skill set. Instead they will have been entertained or bored, but not trained.
The greatest challenge for any seminar leader is how to introduce new concepts and principles in a real, meaningful and brief way. But then the trainer must give the trainees specific exercises or challenges that will force the group to create new answers and solutions as they relate to their individual circumstances.
Spoon feeding your audience answers may be good for the speaker’s ego, but it doesn’t create transference of knowledge and skills. Don’t spoon-feed.
When I am not giving keynote speeches I am most often giving full day media and presentation training seminars to small groups of executives. I used to rattle off sound bites a mile a minute for trainees after I gave them the 11 essential sound bite elements.
I was guilty of spoon feeding them sound bites for their own businesses.
Trainees were amazed and awestruck at my brilliance. But they didn’t learn how to create sound bites very well.
Now, I give them the principles of how to create sound bites, but then I shut up. Instead of bombarding the trainees with one clever sound bite after another, I lump the group into teams of two. Then I get each team to brainstorm as many sound bites as they can for each sound bite.
This process takes a little more time, and my trainees compliment me less during the process. But the result is that they learn a lot more and my skills have been transferred to them for use in their own worlds. That is true communication success as a seminar or workshop leader.