The First Rule of Presenting

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Whenever we conduct a Presentations Training for a client, the first thing we typically have to critique a participant on is where they should look while they are presenting.  For most, the natural place for their eyes is the same as everyone else in the room:  The screen.  Wrong!!

The screen (of monitor in some cases) is for the audience.  The laptop on the table, or printed Power Point should be used by the presenter.  Why?  Two words:  Eye contact.  In order to connect with an audience, a presenter must maintain the highest level of eye contact possible.  That’s impossible to do if a presenters back is facing the audience because they are presenting to the screen.  Good presenters will glance down at the screen, using it as a prompt, then make eye contact with their audience.

Next time you find yourself in a presentation, watch to see if the person presenting is doing it the “right” way.  Odds are they won’t, but after reading this, you will.

Forget the Town Hall Meeting. Appeal to their stomachs!

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Last week I had lunch with a prospective client in the Oil and Gas industry who spent a number of years with BP, mainly in their Community Relations department.  The topic of conversation quickly shifted to their efforts to install what could be a controversial plant in the Southern Texas area.  I asked him what they were doing to meet any “resistance” from the community towards the project. Fully expecting him to say they were hosting a series of “town hall” type meetings, he surprised me by instead saying they were asking local residents to host “dinner parties” at their homes so the company could share information with the community in a less formal setting.

The client said, even somewhat surprisingly to him, the dinner parties were an instant success.  Community members felt going to their neighbors homes was a much “safer” forum to meet with the company and hear about its plans than going to the usual civic center or school and enduring through a 2-3 hour meeting and its countless speakers from both the company and local governments.

This individual told me his person on the ground there in Southern Texas simply asked a few local residents if they would be willing to host the meetings and once they said “yes”, she then coordinated having food from a local restaurant brought in and she would then handle all the details regarding setup and cleanup.

Now sometimes the “town hall” is a company’s only choice, but either way, this novel concept of appealing to people’s stomachs sounded like a great way to either supplement or complement a company’s efforts to help inform the community of the benefits of what could become a controversial project.


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