The Future of Presenting

Where do we see presenting headed in the near future?

Technology predictions can be difficult to make. Technology is advancing faster than ever, and the changes we’ve seen in the past few years have had a serious impact on the way presentations are delivered.

We can’t know for sure what presenting is going to look like – what formats it’s going to take, whether there will be a drastic change concerning live vs. online presentations –  but we do know there’s going to be more of it. The rate at which information is developing, more information is going to need to be summarised in order for people to make decisions. A few years ago it was possible for one person to know everything about a subject, but that’s no longer the case. Systems and technology are more complicated, responsibilities are shared, and research is conducted and contested by many different people. You’ve got to have somebody who can take a huge chunk of information and summarise it for conclusions to be drawn, or provide people with the necessary information to make a decision. The more human knowledge expands, the more importance is placed upon presenting it in a coherent way.

Some things about presenting, like the importance of objectives and need to tailor to your audience, will always remain a constant. But certain things are taking shape for the future, and it is up to you as a presenter to be prepared. We might not know what exactly the future holds for presenting, but we know that the need is going to be exponential. Given that there’s going to be even more presentations than there are today, here are our tips on what to look out for:

Presentations will become more interactive. The rise of the Internet has encouraged buyers to seek out their own answers. They have become accustomed to having control, and want to ask their own questions. In the presentation world, this means that audiences are beginning to set the agenda. You may find yourself in an informal question and answer session, or you may find yourself delivering a presentation when you are interrupted by a request to jump to the next section. More situations will call for direction from the audience, and so presenters will find themselves producing presentations that can be delivered interactively. But most importantly, audiences will demand information that is relevant to them, and disregard content that isn’t. Think about your content, and if the information you provide doesn’t benefit your audience – cut it out.

Online presentations will become even more commonplace. Videos of your slides (e.g. using Brainshark or PowerPoint to Flash conversions such as iSpring) are great, but as technology becomes cheaper and more advanced, we expect to see more online presentations being delivered with an actual video of the presenter presenting.

As the technology improves for people to present virtually, voiceover PowerPoint will be replaced by e.g. green screen videos, which has the added bonus of using the presenter’s facial expressions and gestures as well as his or her voice to influence the audience.  We expect voiceover PowerPoint providers to adapt accordingly, so this type of technology will become readily – and cheaply – available to users.

Tablet presentations will increase in popularity. Even Apple didn’t realise the success the iPad would have in the business market. Salespeople love that tablet computers put the presentation literally in the audience’s hands, keeping them engaged and giving them control of your content. With various presentation software solutions available, the tablet looks set to be a big player in the world of business meetings.

However, this will only prove true if the iPad is used correctly. Too many presenters are simply treating tablets as a smaller laptop – and presenting directly from it. This doesn’t improve the presentation, other than making things slightly more convenient for the presenter. If you put your tablet in the hands of your audience – and we mean physically give it to them to hold and allow them to scroll through themselves – you put them in charge of your content. They’re instantly more engaged and involved with you and your information. That’s the real benefit of tablet computers – so don’t overlook it.

Audiences will expect more. More people are being exposed to more effective presentations, and will compare these favourably to outdated bullet point presentations. If your presentation is sub-standard, the audience will be disappointed. They’ve seen better. They know it’s out there. Now more than ever is the time to really think about your messaging, and ensure that you are using effective visualisation techniques to keep your audience engaged.

Harry Wilson
Harry Wilson
Harry Wilson is the Founder & Managing Consultant at Convinced.

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