Having more time than you think you’ll need to present on a topic is a good problem to have. Cover your topic as quickly and completely as possible, then give the audience an opportunity to practice whatever it is that you’ve talked about. Here are a few examples from both large and small group presentations that I’ve seen:
- Peer Coaching: At the 2009 ASTD International Conference and Expo, I attended a session led by staff from SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) in which they talked about the successes of their leadership development program. One major element to this program was peer coaching. After talking with the audience about the steps involved in their peer coaching component, the facilitator asked us to break up into small groups and try it out. In a session that was attended by 100 or 150 people, the facilitator broke us up into small groups. It was engaging and it drove the point home. It’s something I still remember four years after attending this 90 minute session.
- Get Active: In a keynote address at this year’s SHRM Talent Management conference attended by about 2,000 people, Jane McGonigal gave a talk about the impact that games can have on society. During her presentation, she illustrated her point by having everyone in the group engage in a round of “massively multi-player (two-handed) thumb wrestling.” It was exactly what it sounded like – 2,000 people joining hands and thumb wrestling with both hands in small(ish) groups. Then, on stage, she de-briefed exactly how this activity fit into her thesis about the impact of games on society.
- Show Off Your Skills. A year ago, a co-worker asked me to deliver a 6 hour session on presentation skills. I had traditionally delivered a two-hour in-house session on presentation skills and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with those extra four hours. Until it dawned on me that it would be extremely useful for attendees to actually put together a short presentation, deliver it and receive feedback in the training session.
Putting your audience to work is the single best way you can invest presentation time.
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