Is your presentation a one-way monologue for listeners?
Or is it an invitation for listeners to enter the conversation?
If you want your listeners to remember what you said, then your presentation needs to be more like Facebook than TV. Why? The best learning occurs in a social context not in a passive listening experience.
Comparing Facebook And TV
Today, people spend more time on the internet and Facebook than they do watching TV.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans now spend 2.8 hours a day watching TV. Working adults spend approximately 3 hours a day online for their jobs and another 1-2 hours a day online for leisure according to the McKinsey Global Institute. That’s 4-5 hours a day online.
Why do social networking sites have more of a draw than traditional TV?
- They are about people you know or want to know better.
- They invite and encourage interaction and connectivity with others.
- They make communication simple and fast.
- They allow contact with others to occur in real time.
This explains why many TV shows now ask viewers to text, phone, post or tweet as they watch programs. Some TV programs even encourage the “second screen experience” where viewers participate with actors, producers and other viewers online while watching the show.
Lessons For Presenters
Today, effective presenters recognize that culture has greatly shifted from passive consumption to active participation. They recognize that if they’re going to get a message across to an audience, they must let audience members do some of the talking.
Consider a typical conversation. If one member is monopolizing the conversation, that person does not make a favorable impression on the other listeners. People who talk too much lose credibility.
It’s the same today with presentations. People don’t want to sit passively for 60- or 90-minutes listening to a lecture. We are just not wired that way. We want to participate.
Sure there are some presenters that are excellent communicators and we’re willing to sit passively listening to them for an hour. However, we are not willing to do that every day. Nor do we retain much from the lecture.
Good presenters know when to get off the stage and let the audience do the talking. I like to say that good presenters move from being the “sage on stage” to the “guide on the side.”
There are tons of relevant research from educators today that prove the more the audience is engaged in doing something, the more they learn and retain.
Researchers like UCLA’s Drs. Alexander and Helen Astin, the University of Michigan’s Dr. Bill McKeachie, Indiana University’s Dr. George Kuh and Russia’s Dr. Lev Vygotsky have proven how adults learn best. Here are three evidence-based strategies these researchers discovered that presenters should embrace to increase learning.
1. Active Involvement
Learning and success increases with the degree and depth of attendee engagement in the learning process. When we increase the amount of time attendees invest in the experience, transformation increases as well.
2. Social Integration
Learning and success increases through human interaction, collaboration and relationship building. When presenters increase attendee interaction, either peer to peer or in small groups, learning increases.
Learning and success increases when attendees reflect and internalize their experiences. When presenters provide time for attendees to individually reflect on the content, attendees’ retention increases.
It’s time for presenters to let their audience be the star of the presentation. Let them transition from passive attendees to active participants. Let them participate!
Hat tips to author Dr. Tim Elmore for initial thoughts on how presentations need to be more like Facebook.
What are some ways that presenters can invite interaction from attendees? What are things you can do in your daily life to practice engaging with others more to make it more of a habit?
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