For many decades, people from ceremonial podiums and famous stages around the world have delivered inspiring linear presentations that help their audiences to feel empowered or see things in a new way (think TED). The delivery style in office spaces has followed suit, but without the same degree of success. Rehearsed and inflexible scripts in the workplace have too often caused listeners to struggle to remain interested. And, in today’s world of rapidly decreasing attention spans and demanding mobile devices, a typical business presentation falling flat is almost expected.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. With a shift in approach, presenters can turn their presentations into dialogues, making them interactive and interesting enough to keep viewers tuned in while their pocket-sized screens remain in the pockets where they belong.

Welcome to what we at Prezi call Conversational Presenting. This two-way approach enables presenters to jump straight into the content that matters most to any given audience, creating a consistently relevant and engaging experience from beginning to end.

As we move further into an era that sees the first internet-raised generation enter the workforce in massive waves, the shift in communications is increasingly evident. People want to ask questions and provide their own insights. They want to problem solve and debate. They want their opinions heard and taken into account.

Conversational presenting is natural and will soon be natural in the workplace too. We’ve spoken to many Prezi users and have found that the benefits of utilizing our approach in everyday business are diverse. Here are our four favorites:

It saves time.

Gone are the days of using filler material in a presentation, such as the dreaded “About Us” slide. When you have the flexibility to ask a boardroom full of executives or potential clients what they want to learn about that day, and continue to use their feedback to navigate through the information you have prepared, you’re only ever going to present what’s needed. 
This super-focused approach amounts to a lot of saved time for your audience as well as for you the presenter. And as most of us know by now: time is money.

The presentation is always relevant.

A conversational presentation has enough room for every single little detail you could ever dream of, but doesn’t bind you to sharing it all. Instead, it allows you to be prepared for any level of interest in any topic using the same presentation.

Let’s say that in an effort to gain more budget and buy-in for a particular project, you’ve prepared a presentation for a number of colleagues within your organization. The plan is to deliver it several times over several days to accommodate different team members’ schedules, but what about their different interests and concerns? These are often very specific to job function, but nobody wants to put the time into redesigning the same presentation every time they’re about to approach a new person.

With conversational presenting, this becomes a non-issue. Simply include all the information needed and let your audience pick and choose what they care most about. You’ll be relevant each and every time without having to do double or triple the work. (Hint: this works great for your customers, too—create one sales presentation and customize your delivery, rather than having to build a whole new deck each time you present.)

Showing information in context paints a clearer picture

Here’s a common scenario: it’s lunch time at the office. You’re not sure what to eat. You pull up a maps service online, type in your work address, and then zoom in to see which tasty options are closest to you. Nothing looks new or exciting, but then a coworker mentions a restaurant you haven’t tried yet. You don’t see it within the two-block radius you were hoping for, so you type the name of the restaurant into the maps service to find it, then zoom out to see how far away it is from your current location. As a next step, you check how long it will take to walk vs. how long it will take in an Uber.

Seeing lunch locations in context like this makes you a well informed — albeit very hungry — person, and a well informed person can be trusted to make the right decision. This is how conversational presenting works to get your ideas across to an audience in an incredibly effective way. When a viewer can compare and contrast different ideas, as well as see how even the smallest details fold into the larger ones, they have a much clearer understanding of the picture as a whole.

In the workplace, this means you can present a complex idea and not worry about viewers getting lost in it. Start with an overview, then zoom in to get down to what is critically important at a functional level, then zoom back out to show how the different pieces relate to each other. It can be easy to overlook the bits of information that live at the lowest level of business operations, but showcasing how they relate to the highest level of productivity can be more persuasive than ever. Plus, it’s just nice when everyone’s contributions are recognized, isn’t it?
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Be imperfect

At this point, let’s assume you’re convinced conversational presenting is the way to go (woo!) and you’re eager to get started. Before you drop slides directly from PowerPoint into Prezi, know that tweaking your approach to content is required in addition to a change in format and delivery. After all, how can you expect to have a successful conversation if you’re too busy rattling off bullet points that—impressive as they may be— likely no one will remember?

What many of us know these days as visual storytelling complements conversational presenting perfectly. We’ve got a ton of research to explain why visuals work best in presentations, but the gist of it is simply that our brains are built for them. Between 80 and 90% of the information that our brain processes comes in through our eyes, and almost incredibly, two-thirds of the brain’s electrical activity is dedicated to vision when the eyes are open. In other words, we are hardwired to consume visuals, and our brains have evolved powerful storage capacity for this type of information.

When translating your content into a conversational presentation, think of what you can condense into quickly digestible visuals. Take projected growth for example. It’s a routinely shared statistic, but typically presented using a graph and squiggly lines that are hard to read from afar. Here’s how that data could look using visual storytelling techniques:

A visual like this is perfect for a map-like delivery style. See how the size of the illustrations communicates growth without even having to look at the actual numbers? It requires very little processing or mathematics to comprehend, and is easier to remember than plots on an axis. Having this image on the screen as you chat with your client will communicate your message visually while you communicate it verbally. That’s a double whammy!

While conversational presenting is not going to be the right way to go in every single instance, the direction our world is moving in will certainly make it the best option more often than not. With a combination of a map-like structure, meaningful movement, and visually appealing content, Prezi makes delivering a presentation that operates like a conversation easier than ever.

We at Prezi are proud to be one of the many companies to bring productivity into the 21st century, and the first to offer a solution that treats presentations as more than just that. Because in business you’re always adapting, and we believe you should have a platform with the flexibility to support you.

Find out more about conversational presenting today by taking a tour of our Prezi Business workshop.
This article was provided by Prezi. Prezi helps businesses to create and deliver memorable presentations in all corners of the world.
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