Did your audience hijack your business presentation?
Have you ever been victim to your audience taking over your business presentation? This usually happens in a data presentation.
If not, lucky you.
Let me show you how a typical ‘Presentation hijack’ happens:
It usually starts with the presenter unknowingly sticking a spreadsheet or a chart from Excel directly onto a PowerPoint slide.
They point their laser (or their finger) to a certain cell in the spreadsheet, hoping to draw the viewer’s attention to that cell.
That is when the disaster strikes.
Someone from the audience points to some other cell on the spreadsheet and raises a question.
Now, suddenly the attention of the audience shifts to a totally different topic.
As a presenter, you have two choices.
- You either comment on the observation or
- You choose to ignore the question
No matter what option you choose, you lose. Let me tell you why…
When you choose option 1, you ‘react’ to the observation and run the risk of diverting the flow of your presentation to areas that you don’t want to talk about.
When you choose option 2 and say, “That is not part of the discussion for today”, you raise a suspicion that you’re trying to hide something. So, your audience gets extra curious about the bit you are trying to gloss over.
So, whichever option you choose, your presentation goes out of control.
Many times, you don’t even get a chance to respond to the observation. Someone else from the audience does.
Before you know, a heated argument – totally unrelated to the topic of your presentation gets triggered and you just stand there haplessly trying to bring order to the chaos. The worst part is – by the time the argument comes to a ‘cool off’ point, you usually lose your allotted time.
That my friend is called a “Presentation hijack” and is definitely not pleasant.
So, how do you avoid your presentation getting hijacked by your audience?
First, realize that it is naive to expect that your audience would look at just the part of the chart you point your finger to. Almost always their eyes take a trip around the entire chart:
So, be prepared.
Here are three things you can do to drastically reduce the chance of a presentation hijack:
- Include only the numbers relevant to your core message and remove the rest
A chart included on a slide is very different from a chart included in a report.
The main purpose of a chart on a slide is to support your argument. That’s it.
So, include only the data that pertains to your argument and ruthlessly eliminate other irrelevant numbers. Its better to create the chart in PowerPoint as Excel charts usually tend to have a lot of data.
If you feel that you must share more data, you always have a chance to send the associated worksheet by way of email. Since your audience will have sufficient time to go through the various numbers, make their own calculations and come to their own inferences – they’ll feel in control as well.
Doing this simple thing will ensure that your audience stays with your line of thought during your presentation and you stay in control at all times.
- Use purposeful custom animation to reveal the chart at your own pace
This is hugely important if your chart is complex.
First, show just the axes and explain the context of your chart. Then, present the chart either by series or by category, so you can control the pace of your presentation. When done well, you can guide the attention of your audience the right way with custom animation.
- Highlight the relevant points in a chart or spreadsheet
Provide clear visual cues that draw the attention of your audience to a certain cell or a data point, rather than relying on finger pointing or laser waving.
It helps you control the eye movement of your audience and will make your audience see that you are prepared.
If you want to know how to create professional looking charts the right way, I suggest you take a look at the ‘PowerPoint Charts, Tables and Infographics Mastery’ section of our Ramgopal’s PowerPoint Mastery Program.
There are more than 95 videos, text-based lessons and downloadable resources that help you make clear and memorable PowerPoint charts quickly and easily. You can check the details regarding the program by clicking on the link here.
Already a Mastery Member? Access the Charts & Graphs section here >>
If you liked this article, please share it with your friends. It will encourage us to produce more such articles for you.