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Just-in-Time Presentations – From Boring Presentations to Powerful Conversations

  • clarity

I have just finished a presentation to a client. Or rather, it is a shoot-a-question and answer session. The client shoots the question, I answer the client. I had prepared a deck of 20 slides but in the end, I showed only 5 of the slides. But I addressed all the client’s questions and got the outcome I wanted: which is to connect with my client and generate a new business opportunity.

We used to think of presentations as “I present to an audience”, “The audience is listening to me”. However, our audience are now different and what they want is a Just-in-Time Presentation.

The term Just-in-time originated from lean manufacturing whereby the manufacturing process produces goods as they are needed, hence minimizing labor, time and materials. In business presentations, we conceived the term, Just-In-Time Presenting, to mean producing information as and when it is needed by your audience. Not wasting your audience’s time or boring them. And in the process, you meet your audience’s needs and achieve your outcome.

Presentations are no longer presentations. Think of and prepare for presentations as conversations. The audience or clients are in control of what they want to know and not dictated by the flow of your slides or presentation. Therefore, while presentations are “me-centric” and dictated by what you want to present, conversations are “audience-centric” and driven by what your audience wants to know.

And by being not fixated by your slides or content, it means that you, the presenter, can ask your client, important questions to find out what they need. So that you can produce the solution or responses that your customers, audience or stakeholders need or can connect with.

As presenters, we need to imagine we are a search engine. We provide the information based on what the audience asks. During your presentation, allow your audience to ask questions and be ready to skip slides and go to the slide that is most relevant to the audience or which answers the audience’s question. And if there are no slides that addresses the question, be prepared to think on your feet and answer it with what you have inside your head. And if there is nothing you can draw out from your experience, engage your client by asking questions to clarify the topic and buy some time for yourself to think and provide an appropriate response.

By preparing and conducting your presentations as conversations, your engagement with your audience becomes dynamic and client-centric, and your possibility of success, higher!

Here are 5 steps to transform Boring Presentations into Powerful Conversations

  1. Identify the top 5 questions your audience may ask you, from their point of view and concerns. Use the 5W1H method to generate questions from your audience’s perspective: Why, What, When, Who and How. One of the most important questions to ask and prepare for is “Why is this even important to ‘audience’?”
  2. Use the hide function – Prepare your slides with comprehensive content but use the hide slide function so that you do not overwhelm your audience with too much information. If your audience raises a question that could be addressed with a hidden slide, you can always unhide and show the relevant slide.
  3. Position your presentation as a conversation by saying at the start of the presentation, that your audience are free to interrupt you if they have questions. Say that you have prepared a deck of slides but is always open to move away from your prepared presentation flow to address what the audience wants to know.
  4. Stop your presentation after 5 minutes to ask your audience whether they are following the presentation. This allows you to gauge whether you are on track or off the track. And based on their responses, you can adapt, and engage in the topics or conversations important to your audience.
  5. Look at your audience, all the time. If there are only 1-2 people, maintain eye contact with them throughout your presentation. If it is with a group of people, focus your eye contact on the decision makers or key stakeholders while occasionally checking on the rest of the audience.

Power up your presentation-conversation skills with our workshop on Powerful Presentations for Business Impact – Presenting to Engage and Persuade or with our Presentation Skills Coaching