Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Meet better

Many years ago, I remember hearing about a Microsoft study that looked at the effectiveness of Powerpoint presentations.  While it may be completely fictitious, I remember hearing that Powerpoint slide shows decreased effective communication within the Microsoft company by 22%.  Even if the study never happened, I have experienced enough "Death by Powerpoint" to know that this form of presentation can be completely disengaging.

If you are presenting to a group and you hear yourself say, "Here are some more bullet points to remember...," please consider a serious recalibration of your lesson design process.  If your slide show contains bullets that the audience needs to know, do not expect your audience to copy the bullets, memorize the information, or magically own the information communicated through your bullets.  Instead, guide your audience through clarifying conversations, then check for consistent understanding.  Too many bullets kill your presentation.

If you are meeting with a group in order to make a shared decision, do not show bulleted information, chat with the group, and expect everyone to magically absorb the seemingly agreed-upon decision.  Be extremely clear about the agreement.  If the group is discussing and deciding upon the details of the action plan, afterwards, be sure that those agreements are communicated clearly.  In writing.

If you are presenting bullets to a group and more than 20% of your audience is looking at their phones at any given time, rest assured that another 20% of them are daydreaming.  If more than half of your audience is looking at phones or checking emails, rest assured that pretty much no one is engaged.  If your meeting does not contain well-designed conversation, the group will quickly become disengaged.

If they are not engaged, they are not getting your message.  If your presentation contains to-do items, be sure the audience receives a list of the to-do items.  If the message you are sharing needs to be understood the same way by each audience member, let them talk about it, then check for clarity.  Don't expect them to capture notes from your words and leave with the same interpretation.

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