Monday, February 27, 2012

How to Ace Your Presentations - Part 2 (make them entertaining)

Study Tipping Tuesday
How to Ace your Presentations – Pt. 2

Once you’ve completed step 1 and have a clear outline of your presentation with a few key points you are ready to start making the presentation entertaining.

And I don’t mean embedding any old YouTube video or dressing up in some kind of weird costume (though these things could work as long as they were relevant).

That is the key word to making your presentation entertaining – relevance.
Look at your outline and think about how you can do at least one of the following (if you can hit all 3 you’ve got a home run):

1. How can you make your presentation content relevant to your audience’s lives?
2. How can you add in an entertaining element to your presentation that is relevant to current popular culture and the course/presentation content?
3. How can you do something creative that will  help your audience see your presentation content in a new/deeper way? 

Using these questions you will then want to think of ways to use media, stories, or any other means to take your presentation from boring to memorable. Which, when done right, will take your presentation from a B- to an A+.

As I'm sure you've experienced – boring is not a good teacher. We retain and learn the most when we are entertained and engaged (e.g. I bet you can remember the lyrics to your favorite song faster than you can remember the quadratic equation). 

Do your classmates a favor and don’t bore them to death on presentation day. Give them something to remember.

And always remember it isn’t about entertainment for entertainment’s sake – your professor will not be humored by that (and in the end your goal is of course not to entertain or teach your classmates but to get a good grade). 

But - your professor will be very impressed with your ability to be creative with the course content in a way that further engages the class in whatever it is you are presenting about (e.g. I once created an XtraNormal animation for a grad school presentation that was a huge hit with my professor).

For example, when I co-taught a Life and Career Planning class I was tasked with creating the lesson on social intelligence (the ability to understand and act upon unspoken social rules). I wanted to make this fun and wanted to start with an entertaining and relevant introduction to engage the class right away. So after reading more deeply on the subject (this is the key to adding entertaining elements to your presentations – you have to know your stuff!) I had an idea.

I realized that the best example I saw of social intelligence was in the comedy The Big Bang Theory. The heart of this show is the character Sheldon who possesses a very high IQ and almost no social intelligence (e.g. does not understand how to follow social conventions like how to act in a movie theater, how to choose a formal outfit, how to properly read the emotions of others, etc.) and his (and his other brainy friends’) interactions with Penny – their next-door-neighbor with not-the-highest-IQ but who possesses a high social IQ. Thus, I showed the following clips to the class and it turned it into one of the most engaging classes I taught that semester.

Simple integrations of popular culture or connecting a concept with something your audience can relate to immediately in their own lives will capture their attention, make your material more stimulating, and earn you a better grade.

Engage deeply with your content and think big about how you relate to it. Brainstorm relevant videos, popular culture, news stories, or stories in your own life that could illuminate your key points and create a memorable experience for both you and your audience.

Once you have your key points and the stories and/or media you are going to use to make them interesting, do you just slap a bunch of words and pictures on a PowerPoint? Are there other, more interesting ways than the same old PowerPoint? Oh yes! I’ll share them with you next Tuesday =)

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