Monday, April 7, 2008

Indirect Can be More Powerful

Sometimes a more indirect approach in your presentations can be more powerful than the direct route. I started thinking about this principle after changing the audio set-up at my office's laptop station. The first image below shows how my computer speakers have always set - pointed straight towards me. Loud is loud. Soft is soft. Very direct and very much in my face.

This second image shows how they set now. They are turned away from me and angled. If you look close you can tell that my laptop station is in the corner of the room. With the speakers turned away, the sound isn't blaring right at me and because they are pointed at an angle toward the corner, the sound bounces a few times before it gets to me. This produces a richer, more complex arrangement. I have no idea where I got the idea to do this, but it blew me away. Now I need the new BOSE Computer MusicMonitor speakers and my ears will literally die and go to heaven.

The presentation lesson here is by being indirect (i.e. - engaging different tools and resources instead of just coming right out and saying your point) you can add layers, richness and power. Your point still needs to be said. This is not a diversion or avoidance strategy. This is an experience strategy. The experience of listening to my laptop station music is greater now than before. The experience of your presentation (the sounds, the sights, the feel, the interaction, the emotion, the logic, etc.) will stay with your listeners long after your words are gone.

So, how can you apply this "indirect is powerful" dynamic to your presentations? Here are a few suggestions...

1. Show a picture without text and let the picture tell the story.
2. Give one strong statistic instead of ten weak ones.
3. Start with a metaphor from your personal experiences highlighting your point instead of starting with your point first.
4. Have a self-running slide show running in the background providing visual context and extensions to your words.
5. Use a simple prop.
6. Engage the audience in an experiential interaction allowing them to experience your point, not just hear it.
7. Show a video.
8. Ask for audience responses.
9. Have the audience talk to each other about one of your points.
10. Use music to set the mood. Remember to angle the speakers. :)

I would love to see some comments on other "indirect" strategies you have used or seen.

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