June 14, 2019

When to Turn a Presentation into a Conversation

Gone are the days of structured presentations that focus purely on facts and figures. Today, flexibility and adaptability are a must. Due to an ever-increasing demand on time, it’s essential to present relevant information quickly and accurately rather than wasting your audience’s time with lengthy and possibly unnecessary slides.

Depending on the topic of your presentation and the overall mood in the room, moving away from a PowerPoint presentation and into a direct conversation with your audience can be really effective.

The Advantages of a Dialogue

Changing from a presentation to a dialogue has several advantages:

  • You get feedback during the presentation, not afterwards. The content can be quickly adapted to meet the interests of your audience. Depending on who you are presenting to and what their interests are, it may make sense to change the order of the slides.
  • In principle, discussions are more interesting and engaging than presentations. They give the audience the chance to participate and contribute. As a rule, conversations are remembered better and for longer than pure presentations.

When Does a Switch to a Conversation Make Sense?

The move from a presentation to a conversation does have some requirements.

  • The audience should be on the small side. The more people involved in the conversation, the more confusing and chaotic it becomes. If the audience is small, you can let everyone have their say and address them individually.

  • You need an audience that is actively interested and ready to get involved. There is no point in attempting a dialogue with a passive or indifferent audience. A conversation is a two-way street.

  • A presentation that isn’t well received is not necessarily a prerequisite, but it is an argument for a change. If you notice that your audience doubts the information you are presenting or is bored, switching to a dialogue can turn things around. It will encourage your audience to get involved and give you the opportunity to answer questions and address any doubts when they arise.

  • The most important requirement of all is preparation. Switching to a conversation requires you to be able to talk about your topic freely and confidently without the help of your slides. Answering spontaneous questions requires in-depth knowledge of your topic and a lot of skill. Make sure that you are really familiar and confident with the subject in question.

Starting a conversation with your audience has a lot of advantages but isn’t always the right option. As with any presentation, it depends on the topic, the type of presentation and the audience. So, test the waters and slowly introduce conversations into your presentations to see if they are right for you.

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