In the latest edition of his ongoing series on improving your games industry-related managerial skills, Marc Mencher continues his initial look at the the power of influence, this time focusing on the importance of effective presentations
In this excerpt, Mencher says it's important to engage the audience directly if you start to notice that their attention is waning, and suggest you leave the endless data-packed slides as a take-home rather than forcing the audience to sit through it all:
"As you’re talking, you notice a steady increase in low-level noise like coughing, whispering, paper-shuffling and the sound of cells phones on vibrate. Before people start getting up and not coming back, you need to figure out how to get their attention without calling to them. This is where rehearsing at least once in front of someone who can give you positive feedback is helpful.
A lack of interest may be visible in the nonverbal responses of your managers. If so, draw attention to this and ask for frankness in assessing your ideas. If your plans meet with criticism, do not take this personally. It is much more likely that the reasons for refusal are political and strategic rather than personal. If so, you may need to wait for the climate to change before trying again. If, despite your best efforts, you cannot gain any acceptance by reworking your proposal, then move on to something better. You will gain credit for your professionalism – and future presentations will meet with a better reception.
Some speakers take refuge in presenting endless slides crammed full of details. Yes, it shows that they did their homework, but that’s the kind of data best presented in a take-away hand out. When making a presentation, focus on the big picture and give your audience what they need to check on the details themselves.
The one type of detail that is effective, however, is financials. Spreadsheets don’t make very good slides, but comparisons do. Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry’s) used Oreo cookies to explain ways to balance the federal budget. While it may seem like an oversimplification, it was clever because anyone who has seen the presentation thinks about it every time they walk past a display of Oreos in the market."
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for more from Mencher on hooking your audience in the first ten seconds, and how not to use humor in your presentations (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).