Utilising data before, during and after a presentation

Posted in Presentations on 3 December 2019 By Dale Smith, Director of Presentations

Every few years, new technology forces behaviour change within an industry that results in the need for businesses and consumers to pivot to stay relevant.

In the world of speaking and presenting, the availability of data brought about by the fourth industrial revolution has created a new opportunity to learn more about audience engagement than ever before. The notion of presenting in a conference, lecture or seminar without integrating technology to measure engagement is becoming something of a historical practice. An influx of apps and platforms is helping speakers drive interaction with their audience, build deeper connections and learn how their content is performing.

To understand how a speaker can use data to learn more about their content and attendees before, during and after a session, Emperor’s Dale Smith met with Matt Rowbotham, Founder of Traxart, to answer a few questions.

As a business that has designed thousands of presentations over the years, what are some of the key considerations a speaker should think about before crafting their content? 

At Emperor, we prepare around five key areas:

1) What’s the story?

It’s essential to understand the win themes that will resonate with your audience. In order to do that, a speaker needs to identify who they are presenting to, what’s going to positively influence them, and find a balance of using the right level of complexity, tone, and using more emotive stories than cold facts.

2) Technical setup

Something presenters often overlook is the environmental aspect of their session. Consideration needs to be given to the type of venue, room, what machine/screen/device is being used to present, aspect ratios, resolution (4k/HD), time slots, who's presenting before/after and how.

3) Creative

By creating a skeleton presentation or storyboard before anything else, you can really focus on the story without getting lost in design/creative. Once this process is complete, we can think about the type of visuals that will support the presenter and create the most impact with the audience. These can be bespoke graphics, big messaging, iconography, illustration, photography or a mix. Animation and interactivity can also be considered to bring the content and story to life.

4) Delivery

The soft skills of a speaker play a huge part in the success of a presentation. Considering who is best suited to speak to a particular audience can have a huge impact on the outcome. For example, is the speaker’s style interactive or linear, casual or authoritative? 

5) Follow-up

Consider leaving the audience with something, so they don't forget the session when they leave the room. It could be a summary infographic, cut-down highlights deck, 60-second key messaging animation or social assets. Lots of options here.

Leading on from the preparation, how have you or the speakers you work with historically gained feedback from an audience during a session?

It’s largely been down to human experience and not necessarily very data driven.

In the moment, a speaker would try and gauge engagement levels by reading body language, if people are watching you, asking good questions to explore ideas rather than to clarify a point. Another method is to look at how many notes are being made, though generally it’s down to ‘feeling’ over anything else. After the event, our presenters often use colleague feedback (who may have been watching the room), follow-up questions, requests for the presentation, LinkedIn requests, or just hard sales metrics (leads generated, and business won).

If there was one single audience metric you could measure around your presentation, what would it be?

Great question. If a speaker is presenting say twenty slides, two or three of them are likely to be used as the big hitting ‘killer’ slides where key messages will land. Being able to identify which of these stood out to an audience to receive reactions such as 'I get it', or 'wow, that's impressive' is highly valuable information.

And how could collecting this kind of data help you or a presenter with future events, lectures and sessions?

Having access to relevant data and analytics would allow us to add a whole other stage into our presentation creation process. We could apply these insights to fine-tune the structure, identify key themes, messaging and build slides based on facts rather than on just experience and knowledge. It’s an exciting new stage in the world of presentations that could drive significant results for those who embrace it. 

What presentation trends are you keeping your eye on in 2020?

1) Data

With organisations making the shift to embracing big data, machine learning and AI comes a need to present these data-driven insights to an audience. The term 'data visualisation' is coming up more and more in our project briefs and finding creative, clear, engaging and easy-to-update ways of delivering this is becoming increasingly important.

2) Technology

In this last year, we created more 4k presentation decks than ever before. A combination of 4k becoming the 'norm' at home and in our professional lives, together with reductions in the price of professional kit for exhibitions and conferences has led to a new era of creativity. However, this also presents challenges around playback, creation and managing the heavy file sizes.

3) The changing presenters and audience

A constantly evolving change in the personality, skills, confidence and expectation of both the presenters and the audience is always being evaluated by my team. When I started my career twenty-something years ago, I was pretty scared to stand up and present to a room full of people. It wasn't natural and it was a skill that needed to be worked on. My kids on the other hand do 'two-minute talks' every month at school and have done since they were seven years old. They look forward to working on their story, building a presentation and presenting it to their classmates. It's this new generation range of tech-savvy, confident, story-led presenters that are becoming investors, senior leaders and decision makers shaking up the way stories are told and received.

Find out more about Emperor Presentations: emperor.works/presentations

This article was first published by Traxart on 21 November 2019 https://traxart.co/blog/data-driven-presentations.

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