Over the last eight weeks I’ve been immersed in some of the most technical presentations I’ve seen. All of my clients struggle with the same problem when presenting evidence to support their story: how much information should I put in my presentation and how do I keep it interesting?
And yet keeping the audience interested might not be the problem. Further entrenching them in the story they thought was true is the challenge. Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to convince the C-suite to invest in technology that will help everyone do their jobs faster and with more accuracy. The C-suite consists of guys well over 50 who did their jobs just fine without technology and they don’t want to spend the money. So you pack your presentation full of hard evidence and data that supports your argument. Projects are taking six months to complete when they could be wrapped up in four. You have charts that demonstrate how much time it takes just to find a document on an overstuffed hard drive. You have charts up the yin-yang.
Will the guys in the room be convinced? The research says no.
We hate to admit we’re wrong and researchers at the University of Michigan say if we’re faced with facts that tell us we’re wrong we hate to admit it even more. That makes the presenter’s job tough.
Thankfully there is a solution. Take the power out of the objections. Present the audience their evidence and then punch holes in it. Then present your evidence. I’ve read this a few times (most recently on Andrew Abela’s blog, The Extreme Presentation Method) and it makes sense. It’s what I used to do when selling.
So when you’re building your technical presentation and wondering what to put in, remember to tell both sides of the story. Doing so is probably the best way to get your audience listening to yours.