The Art of Presenting

Presenting is a skill.  It is not something that you become great at overnight.  It takes preparation and the understanding of what type of audience you are presenting to.  As public relations professionals, knowing how to present information is an important skill. 

The other day, I was shown a post on Ted about a woman named Temple Grandin.  She was diagnosed with autism as a child and travels giving lectures and presentations sharing her insights on the world through autistic lenses. 

She is an expert on animal behavior and has helped design humane handling systems for slaughter houses and cattle processing facilities.  Her ability to see the world in pictures helps her solve problems that the average person would see a different way.  I think it is important to note the way she presents material.  In her presentations, she explains how her mind works differently, honing in on details instead of words, to develop the ideas that it does.

She was engaging the audience using humor, while still giving important information as to the issues she works to correct in slaughter houses.  Her presentation was fascinating with the use of slides, minimal use of words in the slides and appealing use of pictures to explain her research.  These elements along with her talking along with the slides were smooth and it never had awkward elements.

 I think it is important when presenting to engage the audience while still simplifying an issue that may have many complicated elements.  This presentation allows you to walk away with useful tools to use for any topic. 

What elements besides the ones that Grandin uses do you think are important to include in a presentation when trying to explain a complex issue to a large audience?  How as PR practitioners can we still be great presenters and disseminate the necessary information?

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3 Responses to The Art of Presenting

  1. rniu says:

    I agree with you, that each presentation must be formatted according to its audience and message. For example, a presentation geared towards elderly people would be much different than presenting to sixth graders. But one thing that you pointed out that is very useful and almost necessary in all presentation methods, is the idea of simplifying complicated issues. I believe that simplistic methods, such as image storytelling and text-light slides, are much more effective than confusing data charts and paragraphs of information. Even too many bullet points can become ineffective and monotonous.

    In my last post, “Avoiding Death by PowerPoint,” I believe as PR practitioners we can avoid boring presentations by minimizing the amount of words, replacing pictures with words. Prezi is a fantastic tool to enhance any message and can really captivate the audience because it’s unique as it takes you on a visual mapping journey. This is a new and innovative way for presenters to disseminate the necessary information for messaging.

  2. hhoma says:

    I think it is difficult to say what elements are important to include in a presentation because people learn in so many different ways. For example, a slide presentation with lots of images would probably be most beneficial for people like Temple Grandin, who says she thinks in pictures. I, on the other hand, need to read text to fully process information. I cannot listen to a presenter and see images on a slide; the information just doesn’t stick. This makes presenting especially difficult, and it bothers me that the differences in the ways people absorb information isn’t always considered.

    For example, PresentationZen does not seem to consider people like myself who need to read the information in order to process it. The author advises not to use more than six words on a slide and not to provide handouts or documents of the presentation. Without these tools, it’s almost a guarantee that I will not leave with any more knowledge or information that I came with.

    Because people learn in different ways, it’s also difficult to say how PR practitioners can be “great presenters” and disseminate the necessary information. As ahart wrote, it is necessary to understand your audience, but it’s mostly impossible to create a presentation that will be a success for each audience member.

  3. acarlin says:

    I definitely think presenting is a skill that comes with practice and experience. Presenting is a huge aspect in PR. Our jobs as PR practicioners are to present an idea, event or story to either the media or our clients. Whether it’s in front of an audience or just one person, we’re always presenting.

    I think one major thing to remember when presenting to a large audience is to engage the audience and talk about things they can relate to. I learn the most from a speaker when I can relate to what he or she is saying. One way to do this is to make your speech personal, like telling a personal story that is relevant.

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