Rhetorical Interactivity – Create the Perfect Presentation!

By Tommy Brotte

Welcome to the first part of my series on how to create interactivity at your meetings. In this post, I discuss various techniques and tools that you can use during your presentations to create more fun, engaging and memorable experiences for your attendees.

To reinforce the main message in a presentation

Often there are lectures and presentations at meetings and conferences. Unfortunately, most participants remember extremely little of what was said if they were not given the opportunity to reflect on and digest the information. As we have previously discussed here on the blog, you can use various techniques to reinforce your main messages both before, during and after the presentation, in order to build your participants’ pre-understanding and engagement, thus maximizing the chances of them remembering as much as possible from your presentation.

Rhetorical interactivity as a substitute for the classic presentation

The simplest of the simple – let the meeting be about what is relevant to the participants.

One of my clients recently held a department meeting for about 100 people. There had recently been a change of management and the employees had a lot of thoughts and opinions about it. One challenge was that the meeting time was limited to 60 minutes. The solution in this case became very simple. Before the meeting, all participants were invited to download a meeting app and go in and answer a single question. It read: “What do you think is particularly important that we address at the departmental meeting?” Of course, the participants answers were submitted anonymously. After a few days, thoughts started flowing in and we had plenty of questions and topics for the management to talk about. During the first 30 minutes of the meeting, the two managers answered questions and reflected on the thoughts that had come in. After 30 minutes, a new question was published in the app. It read: “What thoughts and reflections do you have right now?” The feed was immediately filled with new thoughts, questions and reflections that the two managers were to answer. Some questions they could not answer and others they did not have time to answer during the meeting, but they promised to answer these in the app within 10 days. During the meeting, not a single Powerpoint image was shown. The managers did not have to prepare any presentations and the meeting came to be solely about what the employees perceived as relevant.

Ask the question and let the participants come up with the answer

Another customer were to present the company’s finances during a company conference. This CFO was smart. Instead of spending 30 minutes presenting numbers, she split her time slot into two parts. She started by using 30 seconds to say that two of the company’s key figures looked extraordinarily good in the last quarter. Then she asked the participants to talk to each other about what key figures they thought this was and then send in their proposals via their meeting app. Immediately a little concern spread in the room: “What key figures do we have, again?” But soon the participants started talking to each other about what the key figures were, what they stood for and what factors influenced them. They talked to each other about how things were going during the year and they submitted their proposals in the app. Only when the CFO broke the exercise after about 10 minutes did they show the participants’ proposals on the big screen, and based on this single picture, the CFO told everyone how it went during the year. In the end, she revealed what key figures she had been referring to. As a result, the participants at this meeting took much more with them than most people would do from a traditional financial presentation. Here, they increased their financial skills and the exercise hightened their pre-understanding and curiosity.

This type of exercise often produces extremely good results but it takes a little courage. Also, we have to throw out the idea that whoever is on stage is the one who has to talk the most. In the case of the CFO, half the program time was used for discussions between the participants.

Compete in the best solution

Sometimes we need to make educational challenges more fun. One way to do this is to conduct a competition on stage. Imagine the following scenario. On stage are two teams and a competition leader. The teams consists of competent profiles from an organization or industry. The competition leader presents a dilemma that both teams should solve during, for example, five minutes. The dilemma can be presented orally but a movie presentation often generates even better results. While the teams work on solving the dilemma, the audience are asked to talk to each other and discuss how they would have handled the dilemma themselves. After five minutes, the competition leader breaks the discussion and a representative from each team gets to present their solution in a sort of “beauty contest”. When both teams have presented their solution, it is up to the audience to vote on which team produced the best solution. After that, a new dilemma is presented and the exercise continues. This is a good way to both stimulate participants to think about how they would solve different dilemmas, and also to hear how two different expert groups would have solved the same problem. It’s both fun and efficient. A suitable total time for such an exercise is about 45 minutes and during that time you should have three to five dilemmas depending on the scope.

Next up: Idea-generating interactivity

I hope my tips and examples on how you can use Rhetorical interactivity at your meetings and presentations will come in handy. In the next post in this series I will tell you more about Idea-generating interactivity, what it is and how you can use it to give your participants the best conditions to want and be able to share their thoughts and ideas during your meetings and workshops.

Wondering how you could use an event app to create better meetings?

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