How to keep your audience focused on you!

I did a 2-day presentation to a group in Virginia Beach last week. The topic is a rather dry one – how to stay in compliance with environmental laws andregulations. Instead of giving the audience a copy of the presentation material at the beginning, I gave each attendee a 4-page summary containing 3 key points to remember for each of the 11 sessions. There is room on the handout for them to take their own notes and to add more points to remember. At the end of the 2-day conference, I gave each participant a copy of a CD that contains a 400-page PDF document that is both searchable and printable. This document has all the topics that I covered in technical detail.

The arrangement worked out remarkably well. The attendees were able to take notes AND pay attention to the presentation. There was nothing for them to read ahead of my presentation so they focused on the presentation.

By the way – no one fell asleep. Many just noticed the presentation was “more refreshing” than the usual presentations they had been exposed to. They just enjoyed it. They didn’t even noticed there were no bullet points until I pointed that out to them.

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5 responses to “How to keep your audience focused on you!

  1. I’m really interested at the moment with what visual aids a speaker has whilst actually speaking, what handouts they give, and then what documentation/online support is offered afterwards.

    Thanks – you’ve made me think!

  2. I’m a bit curious about the slides you used. Do you feel like putting them at slideshare.net?

  3. Michael Erwine

    Great ideas in this post. The summary handout and the cd at the end. Wow.

  4. Norman, I recently decided to use customized client web pages for handouts, in order to cut down on clutter and distractions.

    The handouts I gave during a recent workshop were 1) an evaluation, 2) a worksheet for one of our activities, and 3) a one-page outline of the workshop with ten tips on the back and the link to their customized web page. Nothing to read or to distract from the content.

    Then everything else I wanted to give them went up on the web page I constructed just for that group. Clean and simple! One person commented that she felt a little disoriented without a document to read/follow along with, but that was it.

    I’d love to get rid of handouts altogether, but that’s just not practical!

  5. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. I think we are definitely on the right track. Like you, I give out an evaluation form. I suppose we can have them fill out the evaluation form online after the class. But most of them will not do it a day later. So we are stuck with some paper.

    I also had one person who wrote on the evaluation form that she preferred to have my 400-page e-book to write on during the class. Some people just need to write to feel they are learning. I always tell the class (in a nice and humorous way) to act like they are watching a movie. People usually don’t have a written script to follow along while watching the movie. Afterall, a presentation is “story telling” (aka movie).

    I do create a special web page for people to download my documents when I do my one-hour webinars.

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