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Technology, 10: Humans, 2.
By Doug Malouf   Printer Friendly Version

Doug Malouf, a speaker on the international circuit, talks about the world of presentations as being full of toys. Electronic gizmos. Pictures that flash on to the screen. Dramatic multi-media presentations. Not to mention the tried and true: overhead projectors, slides and eye-catching handouts.

"They're a great asset" says Doug, "as long as the presenter remains in control" He should know. He's been speaking to audiences large and small, in outback towns and at huge international conventions for years. And if there's one thing Doug is, it's a professional. He likes to make an impact.

He likes people to be moved by his message. And he especially likes to use things that work well to get that message across. "Things" meaning everything from the content of his speech to the so-called "toys" he uses. "The polished presenters all know how to use their toys, Doug muses. "The delivery has to be smooth, all the way through. Reviews from participants at conventions can be pretty blunt. They soon let presenters know if their platform skills are lacking. Our audiences are a lot more sophisticated these days. They're expecting more and more form presenters, but they want to learn something along the way. Too much content bores them; to much entertainment and they start to wonder if they've learned anything useful"

Doug Malouf travels the world listening to and speaking with the world's best. He's pretty confident that he knows what people want. What do they want then? And how should you give it to them? What are the "toys" Doug is talking about?

"The manner of deliver varies according to the audience you have and the message you're trying to get across", says Doug "You want to make a presentation that presses buttons in their minds. You need to ask yourself three questions: What will they see? What will they hear? And how will they experience it?"

It seems pretty straightforward when he explains it. The 'toys' he mentions range from the old faithfuls (flip charts, slides, overhead projectors) to modern video and computer presentations. Doug even classifies podiums and hand-outs as "toys". Really, we're talking about using the most suitable media for the occasion.

And, of course, we've all been to those awful presentations where the presenter writes in small (or shockingly illegible) letters on a flipchart in front of a crowd of 150 people. If you're not in the first few rows, forget it! And as for video and computer presentations for a larger group without the benefit of a large, elevated screen ...

Mostly, says Doug, it boils down to using common sense. Unfortunately, a lot of speakers get carried away by all the "goodies" they can use and forget to be practical. Doug offers a few tips:

  • Fit the media to the size of the audience and the content of the presentation.
  • Make sure hand-outs, flipcharts and notes on whiteboards are clear, uncluttered and easy to read.

If you're using computer technology or new electronic equipment, make sure you know how it works. If someone else is operating it for you, check that they have the cues down pat.

  • Don't use the podium as a barrier between you and the audience.
  • Make sure the sound is right. Not too loud, not too soft, no jarring electronic whines
  • Make sure there is a balance of entertainment and content that will keep the audience both happy and informed. Don't play with the toys at the expense of giving the audience what they need.

"The bottom line is" says Doug "will they go away happy? If they do, you and your toys have done a good job. If they don't, then find new toys or learn how to fit the old ones into your presentation. And keep up with what's new - technology is constantly coming up with ways to helping you to make a more dramatic presentation. These days, it's definitely Technology, 10: Humans, 2"

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