Taking the leap: New audience, new mistakes, new learnings

by Oliver Adria on 11/10/2009

ready_to_get_out_of_boxI’ve been asked several times to present infront of a different “type” of people to that I’m usually used to. For example, recently I was asked to present infront of a group of full-time scientists. Of course this is a challenge and I could just turn it down. But I think these are the presentations where I can learn the most from. I will have to adjust the presentation a bit, and I will most likely make more mistakes than I’m used to, but at the same time I think I will learn more than from other ‘ordinary’ presentations.

So these are the times where you can learn a lot – so it’s doubly important that you actively ask for feedback after the presentation. Ask a couple of people after the presentation: “What did you find negative? What did you find positive? Was there one part where you thought it should be shorter/longer? Was the length ok? Did you take anything out of this presentation?” Different types of people react differently. A group of scientists might always be a bit skeptical in the beginning. Whereas an art group might be more open with their direct feedback.

When I did the presentation to these scientists, I thought there were some cool highlights. I showed some nice graphics, images, some text and some short clips (thanks, TED.com!) – and it was actually the second video clip that I showed that impressed many people. It was a clip showing how a professor/scientist can show regular, boring UN statistics in an exciting way – thank you Hans Rosling! Because I think this was the challenge that these scientists faced everyday – how to make data more “cool”. I showed them some things (e.g. how to reduce the number of text you use in a presentations, use more pictures, etc) but when I showed the video clip of a scientist who implemented the idea of a great presentation, that’s when they were most amazed. And I learned out of this, that I should show more examples of people the audience can relate to. I’ve been asked to present infront of school children. Hmm… any ideas? :-)

So, when there is a challenge, in this case a different type of audience, I just do the presentation anticipating that the outcome might be different

than to the one I’m used to. But stepping out of this comfort zone can make me learn more from my presentation.

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