We have recently returned from giving presentations in both Sydney and Melbourne, and a basic training expectation was brought back to our notice with a bang!

When giving a presentation the star of the show should be the presenter, not the Computer soft ware!  And yet at each venue, the set up (which was frighteningly similar) prevented that from happening.  Further, when we politely asked if we could rearrange the layout we were equally politely told that it was not possible.

We were left, therefore, not as we should be; directing the operation, guiding the learning process and interacting with the participants – but shoved carelessly into the shadows somewhere on the sidelines.

This is not what it is all about – but it is what is frustratingly becoming the norm.  When will we learn that it is people that excite, enthuse, motivate and inspire – not the software or the slides!

What we had was a large table in one corner where a dutiful presenter could sit, off side and almost out of sight; but there was no way you could engage with the people eager for knowledge and thirsting to learn from your expertise.  At best, you were a distraction, as they had to turn their heads to engage in eye contact – and at worst you were reduced to being the slide changer.

This is not about communication it is about entertainment!  Professional business communication is goal driven; we want a positive outcome.  If this is not the case then why are we bothering to communicate in the first place? 

Communication driven by business needs is to Inform, to Instruct and to Inspire.

We can sit in the corner clicking our ‘Human Interface Device’ and not utter a word, and to a certain degree we can achieve the first and the second – but never, ever the third!  And we know [or we should do] that it is the emotional connection driven by personal interaction that creates a willingness to act.

All the software in the world will not give your listener or watcher; that ‘ah hah’ moment when the engagement begins.  Information overload is the bane of today’s business world, and we think that if we off load all the facts and figures; detail all the reason and logic that we will have agreement.

Don’t believe it – it is not true.

We only buy into the process when we are moved to believe it has a purpose for us.  We need to ‘believe’ to buy the idea or the goods.  I am not moved to believe by an inanimate picture show; but I am moved to believe by a passionate, energetic and engaging presenter.  Show me how any soft ware programme can generate that personal excitement that engages with our emotions.

Emotional connection is directed by visual cues; energy is generated by movement, and agreement is reinforced by facial expression and direct eye connect.  If I am seated off centre I am not the star of the show – the PowerPoint screen is; the focus is wrong and the outcome can suffer.

So, using a working space that changes that focus is the start of the problem of death by PowerPoint.  The question is, of course, how can we change the focus if we are faced with an unmoveable layout? 

Sometime you just have to live dangerously!  Put down the Human Interface Device and press the ‘B’ key on the laptop; then watch what happens.  By blacking out the Slide Show you can move smoothly into centre stage to engage in the personal interaction which leads to the personal connection.

And when the need occurs to re-engage in information exchange, merely press the ‘B’ key again to restart the slide show exactly where you left it. 

Of course the very best option is to negotiate a much better layout allowing you to optimise the conflicting requirements of any business presentation – a good exchange of information with the powerful personal connection ; because only then will you be using effective communication; and only then will you really have a chance to achieve your aim.
Michele @ Trischel

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