If you’ve been following this series of articles from the beginning you will recall that in Episode 1 we said,

‘Every structure needs a robust foundation and presenting is no different, it’s a bit like building an Aboriginal tipi. A tipi is constructed using many poles but it’s the 3 largest poles that are the support for the other poles. It’s the same with high impact presenting, there are a great number of ‘poles’ needed to create a powerful and memorable presentation but like the tipi, there are 3 large poles that need to be erected first.

1. Frame 2. Envision 3. Perform

Without these the tipi will crumble.’

The first pole was about building a frame for your presentation which involved understanding your audience, being clear on the conversation you wanted to have and considering that conversation as a compelling story.

Now that you have your frame it’s time to erect pole 2 of your structure and envision what your conversation should look like to create the impact and result you want.

The envisioning process is the key to bringing your story to life for both you and your audience.
The most powerful and effective tool to enable any presenter to see their entire presentation before they’ve created it is available to them 24/7 and it doesn’t cost a penny, it’s their mind.

That’s exactly where the Mindful Presenter excels, by visualising the presentation as a whole and seeing in advance what success really looks and feels like before they even enter the room.

Visualisation is simply the process of creating images in your mind of your having or doing whatever it is you want. Once you’ve learned all you can about who your audience is and you are clear on your message the repeated visualisation of you successfully standing in front of your audience taking them on a journey will help you to craft your delivery in the most effective way.

The subconscious mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imagined and will therefore act upon the images you create within, regardless of whether those images reflect your current reality or not.

‘Everyone can use imagery to prepare for all kinds of situations, including public presentations and difficult interactions,’ says Daniel Kadish, Ph.D., a psychologist in New York City.

The starting point to envisioning a successful presentation outcome is to find yourself a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for 10 minutes or so. Once you’re there close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, take a few slow deep breaths, count down from 10 to 1 in your mind and then imagine:

• Preparing your presentation
• Rehearsing
• Presenting to an audience who are smiling and nodding at you
• Seeing yourself engaging with them confidently

This isn’t just a process you do once and say it didn’t work. At Mindful Presenter we do it every day because we are always presenting. It may sound like hocus pocus but the advantages are real and compelling.

Through repeated practice you will find that not only does your confidence and enthusiasm increase but ideas and answers come to you far more easily about how to craft your delivery.

As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in the first 3 episodes, by this point most presenters are ‘chomping at the bit’ to create their slides like a frustrated race horse desperate to be let out of the stalls.

I’ve tried to temper that impatience by suggesting you create an outline for slides in the form of headlines which will be extremely helpful as part of the envisioning process. It does not, however, mean that you will necessarily use these slides.

Let me explain, the process we looked at in Episode 2 was designed to get you to begin to structure your conversation. Now, before we leap whole heartedly into crafting an all singing, all dancing slide show we need to look holistically at the presentation. That means carefully considering the right vehicle for your presentation in terms of possible tools you may use together with the length of your presentation.

The visualisation process I’ve outlined will be of enormous value to you during this next stage.

At Mindful Presenter we are big fans of visual aids and we do use them a lot, largely because we know that most people are visual learners and that the right visual aids can add significant value to the emotional connection you make with an audience.

We believe the studies that suggest an audience will remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, and 50% of what they hear and see.

We’ve seen it for ourselves.

Visuals help people remember.

That said, we don’t believe you should use visual aids just to demonstrate your technological competence or just to benefit you as the presenter in remembering what you have to say. They should only be used if you are confident that they will be instrumental in helping your audience to maintain interest and increase their understanding of your presentation.

Visual aids used badly can ruin a presentation.

Used well, they can greatly enhance a presentation by adding impact and strengthening audience involvement.

They should only be used to:

• Make an impact that would be greater than the spoken word
• Clarify a key point
• Provide an illustrative and compelling example
• Shock, surprise or create an emotional connection
• Help the audience imagine
• Clarify or simplify a model
• Explain abstract concepts
• Make your presentation more memorable
• Summarise
• Entertain

If your purpose in using visual aids is to elicit one of these 10 outcomes and if your research suggests that some form of visual aid will help your audience then you have the choice of which to use:

• Whiteboards and Interactive Whiteboards
• Flip chart
• Over-head projector (OHP)
• Slides
• Props
• Video
• PowerPoint or other presentation software
• Handouts

Before you decide which vehicle to use you need to make sure you know exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish and then you can review the benefits and draw backs of these tools to make your selection. Whichever you choose it’s important that the audience are only shown what they need to see when they need to see it.

Whatever vehicle you choose the only things that should be shown are those that help your audience to understand and retain your message.

Mix it up

As you’re evaluating the best visual aids to use based on impact and audience preferences you may want to consider mixing it up a little.

People have very short attention spans these days and one way to keep them engaged is by breaking up the status quo and changing their thought patterns. You can do that by moving from slides to showing a prop or video or perhaps also sketching something on a flip chart.

To keep your audience stimulated you need to take ownership of the presentation and do so creatively.

As you can see the envisioning element of great presenting has 2 parts; the first is the presenter visualising a successful presentation while the second is using visual aids to help the audience envision the benefits and value of the ideas presented.

Watch out for episode 5 of The Art and Science of Presenting where as part of the envisioning process we will take a close look at using slides.

Image: Courtesy of flickr.com