Deliver an Experience, Not a Presentation – Please

Would you rather watch a presentation or have an experience?  Even though the answer seems obvious, I asked 10 people this question and only one person said they’d rather watch a presentation (a very lazy neighbor whom I suspect thought that having an experience would require too much energy).  Here are just a few ways to appeal to the 90{28746f12feb91437197bf9babc7e93def418e3690b15fb93d15cb45d7b5c5989} of us who would be terribly grateful if we never saw another presentation the rest of our lives.boring_lecture

Start by eliminating the word “presentation” from your vocabulary.

Words are very powerful, and changing the way you describe the event lifts the expectation of your client, changes what and how you will prepare, and eventually what you create. Instead, call it something that better describes what you want to do with the audience.  I use the words engagement & event (“We are holding a team engagement next Tuesday” or “Let’s include that in the event we are hosting next week”).  Preparing for an event, engagement or experience versus a presentation, automatically moves you into a new mindset, opening up fresh possibilities and options beyond putting together 30 slides with a lot of words on them.

Structure your information and discussion around a story.

Great salespeople know the power of a good story. Stories sell, and if you’re giving a presentation you are selling something – whether or not you’re actually a salesperson. Make the story about the audience: where they are, where they want/need to be, and how you are going to help them get there. Be sure to make it clear what’s in it for them, how they benefit from participating in the story. If you engage audiences on a regular basis, one of the best things you can do for your career is to read the book Resonate by Nancy Duarte.

The goal is to not only educate – but engage & entertain your audience.

Information is much more powerful and memorable when it is shared or experienced in different ways. Think about including video clips, incorporating music, engaging the audience with a short interactive exercise, having a demo that includes an audience member, using relevant and memorable props.  I held an event that involved helping people remember what the organization called their “Fundamental Five Chips”, and I passed out chocolate chip cookies at a crucial point, to help them remember the most important part of the message (it also helped deliver a much-needed sugar jolt, given the awful 2PM slot I’d been given). They loved the cookies and appreciated the effort to make the material meaningful. Over a year later I can still ask anyone at the company about the info I was trying to help them retain, and they can immediately provide the answer.

What are some creative ways you have engaged, entertained and educated your audiences?  

Over the next few weeks I am hoping to start discussions around the most effective ways others are engaging their audiences – whether it’s with 1, 6, 20 or 300 people. If enough of us start engaging and stop presenting, we can make the world much more effective, fulfilling and fun!


  1. tlaxa on August 24, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    This is great advice!

  2. KevLang on August 24, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Many of the best TED speakers don’t use slides at all, and many talks don’t require them. If you have photographs or illustrations that make the topic come alive, then yes, show them. If not, consider doing without, at least for some parts of the presentation.