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3 Steps Toward Creating Memorable Live Meetings

John Santaferraro
on 10/12/16 05:00 PM

John Santaferraro is the chief analytics officer at Educational Measures. With 20 years of experience as a big data analytics imagineer, he is responsible for driving the next-generation of meeting and event analytics. Previously, he was the interim CMO at Diyotta and vice president of marketing at ParAccel until it was purchased by Actian, where he stayed in that position to help guide the transition. He began his career in technology as the co-founder of a data warehouse software startup that eventually sold to Teradata. Along the way he has held executive big data marketing positions in top tech companies including Tandem, Compaq, and HP. When he’s not hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing in the Colorado Rockies, John loves to cook gourmet, collect fine wine, and brew craft beer.

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It’s painful to sit in meetings where someone reads their slides, presents nothing but facts, or drones on about something completely irrelevant to the audience. We have all been subject to death by PowerPoint in session after session, sometimes for days on end. 

With 30 years of public speaking under my belt,

I thought I would share three steps on how not to be the presenter who puts an audience to sleep.

1. Tell stories

Storytelling reaches your audience on an emotional level that facts, figures and frameworks will never achieve. That emotional connection automatically increases knowledge retention by embedding the point of the story deeper in the recesses of the mind.

I like to keep three things in mind when I’m telling a story: 1) be brief, 2) create flow and 3) make a point.

  1. Brevity may be the hardest of the three, but it is the most important. To shorten your story, start with the end in mind. You only need the elements of the story that feed the point you are trying to make.

  2. Next, don’t just go with the flow, create it. Flow forces you to eliminate irrelevance and focus on what really matters. To keep the attention of the audience, think about how to “re-engage” your audience at each transition point in your story.

  3. Ultimately, you want to use your story to make a point. If you’ve told the story right, you won’t need to state the point. It will be obvious. The point of the story should be woven into every aspect of the story.

2. Surprise your audience

Surprise your live meeting audience

Don’t be predictable. Nine out of ten presentations start by telling the audience what is going to be presented, then telling the audience exactly what was in the agenda. The conclusion ends up telling the audience exactly what they have already heard. This formula ensures only one thing: BOREDOM!

Next time you present find ways to surprise your audience. Make a statement that is controversial and address the issues that surround it. Utilize interactive presentation tools to play entire-audience games. Use images that elicit an emotional response to wake up the minds of your audience. Or, if you want to be really daring, come up with multiple points for your talk and let the audience decide which points they want to hear.

3. Be relevant

Relevance takes the content of your talk and puts it within the context of your audience. Before you begin preparation for your talk, make sure you can describe your audience by their surroundings. Think about what is going on in their world. What does their job entail? How does their job overflow into their lives? What is happening in their region or company?

Don’t assume that your audience will get the relevance of your content. It’s up to you to bring it home. One way to create relevance is to make it personal. Take time to guide your audience through personalization of at least one key point. Another way to create relevance is to give practical points or best practices. Lofty principles need to be clothed in advice or action.

Consumability is just one of the ‘Six Principles of Next-Generation Live Meetings.’ Download the full guide to begin your move toward creating remarkable experiences.

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