Your presentation starts the moment the meeting is announced – with your name on the agenda. Pick up the phone and interview a few participants, email a simple survey, open discussion with a blog, post a question to a group on LinkedIn or Facebook, start a unique wiki about your presentation, etc. There are a ton of technologies out there to enable you to start the conversation before your presentation even begins. And, the side benefit is that you are doing research on the audience (see prior post!)
Here’s what I mean by engaging early. When Don Tapscott, author of the bestseller Wikinomics, was the keynote speaker at Meeting Professionals International (MPI), he reached out to the MPI registrants. According to CEO Bruce MacMillan, “he blogged with them, invited questions before the event, and considered them; he built them right into his presentation. In essence, he built the presentation around the interests of his audience even before they got there. The audience felt like they were personally involved. They felt like they could see their fingerprints all over the content he delivered. And so they got more out of it… it was personal, and the people who were in the audience felt that they had collaborated and created something remarkable.”
Question: Are you engaging the audience before you even step up to the front of the room to give your presentation?