A Spotlight on Presentations

MPI Toronto Chapter June/July 1996
A Spotlight on Presentations by Lorraine Behnan, Speaker
MPI Meeting May 2, 1996

Along with the words 'downsizing' and 'restructuring', one of the scariest is the word presentation. Whenever you are asked, or told to give a presentation, your reaction may range from a slight case of the jitters to being absolutely paralyzed by fear. Your reaction is a legitimate one. For a designated time period the spotlight is on you! You have to capture the attention of the audience for the duration of the presentation; deliver the information with credibility and confidence; achieve your objectives; and finally, field some pretty challenging questions. No wonder most people would rather have a root canal!

Presentations are like spinach, they may not always be pleasing to your palate but they are necessary to survive and thrive. In today's competitive business environment, the Professional Presentation is the foremost tool in communicating information about a company's product or service. In a world inundated by electronic communication devices most clients still want the personal touch. More often than not your client makes contact with you before being introduced to your product or service.

What better role models to follow than those who make their careers by communicating to audiences who are only afforded minutes to deliver a sales pitch in order to demonstrate their talents? I am talking about the actor and the audition. I have shared my theatrical sills with business professionals, educators, and associations. These people all share a common objective - to deliver dynamic and effective presentations with minimal stress. Whether it is business of acting, or the transaction of business, we are rarely given that proverbial second chance to make a good first impression. Time is a premium in these speedy nineties, so not only do we have to be wonderful, but we have to be wonderful, right away!

In this age of technology our responses are stimulated by visual and audio impact. Consider that commercial breaks happen approximately every six minutes. We are programmed to need a break every few moments before we are ready to take in more information. VCRs allow us to interrupt what would otherwise be a feature length movie so that we may take a trip to the refrigerator, answer the phone or attend to bodily functions. When we do manage to stay focused, we tend to require emotionally charged drama or action-packed adventure to keep us connected. Speaking to people with limited attention spans and a need for high stimulation, how does the presenter engage the audience? The answer is to heighten the delivery style and develop dynamic content.

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