As a professional speaker, I average more than one event per week ranging from large conferences to corporate events hosted by small to mid-sized companies. Often, I am working with leaders to help drive results for their sales teams.
It’s a shame if a business invests time and money in having their team hear a message, only to find out that employees don’t remember much of what was said and therefore can’t implement or execute what they’ve learned.
Of course, the irony is that employees do want to learn new tools and techniques that will make them more effective. But often, the way information is organized and presented makes it difficult for attendees to grasp complex concepts, let alone implement new ideas. That’s why it’s important for speakers to present information in ways that are easy-to-digest and put into action.
If you want your participants to remember what you say long after you’re gone — and be able to execute on their own — here are 3 things to keep in mind when giving your next presentation.
Neen James, author of the new book Attention Pays: How to Drive Profitability, Productivity, and Accountability to Achieve Maximum Results shares a concept called contextual models. It’s her go-to tool when explaining complicated ideas — and for good reason. As experts, it’s easy to overwhelm an audience with facts and figures thinking that if they just give people more information they’ll understand better. That’s the wrong approach.
All too often, speakers have great insight but might not know how to package that insight in a way the audience can digest and remember.
I used to share the idea of how organizations could present their offerings as one of the various levels of a solution. They’d use this to stand out from the competition. I’d share, “There are three different levels of service we provide: basic, intermediate, and advanced.” I’d then share the attributes of each category. I could tell it didn’t resonate.
Today, with Neen’s help, I package the same concept into a contextual model called the Client Vision Pyramid. By using the pyramid as a structure, we name the levels starting at the base of the pyramid: Effective, Enhanced, and Engaged. Engaged sits at the pinnacle of the pyramid. When presented this way, the information is easier to remember, and easier for audiences to act on. Months later, attendees will recount the levels with great clarity – thanks to the contextual model.
In my full day immersion workshops, I used to share key elements professionals should seek in business meetings to qualify if an opportunity was worth pursuing. Attendees would struggle to remember the elements. Today, we shifted that to a visual called the Same-Side Quadrants. I simply have participants draw on a piece of paper a horizontal line across the center and a vertical line down the middle to create four squares, or “quadrants”. By seeing the quadrants, the audience is more likely to remember the concepts I am teaching and more likely to use the tool when they go to sales appointments. Similarly, in the pyramid example above, if each of the tiers is color-coded, people will likely remember the names of each tier.
By offering visual representations of your information, you will help your audiences retain the information you want them to learn. There are different ways you can do this, of course, but the idea is to capture and earn your audience’s attention by getting them visually engaged.
Let Them Take It With Them
Once you’ve created a visual model people can understand, you need to explain the specific ways they can apply the information when they get back to the office. So it’s important for speakers to provide key takeaways and/or offer tools to reinforce the concepts the audience learned. When you do that, you know people are putting what they’ve learned into practice — and that’s valuable because we all know that human nature is such that, if you don’t practice what you learn, within 90 days you’ll revert back to what you used to do. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll forget everything within the first 90 minutes.
Companies invest a lot of time and money sending their employees each year to conferences. You want to make sure your audience not only retains the information you share with them, but they also put the information into practice. Knowledge is only valuable if it can be shared, consumed, and applied.
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