Presentations for Teaching

A viewer of this blog ("RP") recently asked the following question in a comment, and I promised to respond:

I've read and loved both of your books ("[Advanced Presentations by Design]" & "The Presentation"). I am struggling with one thing though, how to make informative presentations? I'm a physician in an academic center and our culture is rife with bad presentations, violating all the rules you set forth. I've read books by others suggesting to have no words, only pictures, etc and this will not be accepted in medicine. We need the data and the sources. This is what appealed to me about your approach. I understand how to use your approach for a persuasive presentation, but what about one to teach? And one to teach complicated material? Right now we rely on bullet points (and it barely does works). Do you have any advice? Thanks!

Thanks for the question, RP.  In my workshop I make the point that you will be a more effective presenter if you convince yourself that every presentation is an attempt to persuade. Sounds radical, but it's a useful attitude to have.  If you think of every presentation you make as having to persuade someone to think or do something differently, your communication will have much more impact.  This is because you are forced to think through what the implications are for your audience: why do they need your information, how does it change their world, why should they care?

It's useful to think of this in terms of the Problem you are helping your audience solve (Step 3 in the Extreme Presentation method). Ask yourself "What could go wrong in your audience's life if they didn't have the information I am trying to present/teach?"  Whatever that answer is, that's the problem you are helping them solve.

You mentioned that you are a physician, so I presume that you are teaching medical students or colleagues.  Here's a suggestion: begin your presentation by noting what could go wrong if someone were unaware of the information you are about to give them.  Perhaps even share a grisly anecdote about an incident that happened because someone didn't have this information.  Now you've got their attention, and you can proceed to share the information (always following the S.Co.R.E. method, of course) because now you have persuaded them why they need the information. 

For some more on this, take a look at pages 32-33 in Advanced Presentations by Design, under the heading "The Curse of the Update Presentation," and also my blog post Presenting to Physicians, Scientists, Engineers… and Marketers.

Feel free to comment below with any followup questions.  


Ready to elevate your presentations?

Ask a question