Presenting One-to-a-Small-Group

The last few posts have highighed how to deal with a variety of sizes of groups.  This post speaks to what is best when you address gatherings of five to thirty.

Tradition states that in these groups you will take the floor and even keep it for the entire time you are together. This is a mistake. Make opportunities early on to get interaction. Ask genuine questions—not silly things like, “How many people here are from St. Louis?” Instead, ask relevant questions like, “How many here have heard of our initiative? Who has some doubts about its capacity to make a difference?” Raise your own hand. Join their crowd. Then explain where you are coming from in candid terms.

Always take questions as they arise. Setting aside time for questions and answers (Q&A) is a mistake in any size group. It robs everyone of context, forcing all interaction to happen in isolation; sets you up to end on a less-than-energetic note (since when is Q&A inspiring?); and requires people to listen for more than fifteen minutes at a time, the optimal time span to hold adult attention.

Tell plenty of stories when you have the floor. These are the most memorable and engaging ways to get your points across. Stay away from bullets and PowerPoint. There are those who will say it is the norm, and therefore expected and required. But why should you pander to norms that reflect ineffective tradition or succumb to unsuccessful technique?


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