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How To Make a Presentation Interactive: The “Contrast Question” Technique

Howtomakeapresentationinterctive

 

 

I am always looking for interactive presentation ideas to share with you in this blog.

Because interactive presentations are always more fun, more educational and more influential than data dumps. When you see great communicators in your organization, you will notice that they are not just flapping their lips at you, they sometimes stop and interact with the audience.

You probably wish you can do the same, but interactivity does not come naturally to you. And that’s ok; interactivity is a difficult thing if you don’t have a structure for it.

In this article, you will learn an interactivity game called the Contrast/Question technique. It’s one of many tools that you can start using to force interactivity in your presentation. If you are one of the rare people who is usually interactive, this will add more tools to your toolbox.

But first…How To Make a Presentation Interactive

Interactive presentations increase retention

How To Make Presentations Interactive

If you are not naturally interactive when presenting, then interactivity has to be orchestrated and planned ahead of time for you. You can’t rely on chance, you can’t hope and pray that for some magical reason you will be interactive on the day of your presentation.

Any presentation can be interactive. I truly believe that. I worked with engineers, Dr’s, Astronauts, Mathematicians, Biologists, Programers, Lawyers, and more and never have I encountered a presentation that does not lend itself to interactivity. Interactivity comes from technique and skill and not from content. Which means if you learn the techniques you can make any presentation more engaging.

There are lots of techniques to make your presentations interactive today we will go over one. The trick is not to just memorize all these techniques, but to take them one at a time and start implementing in your presentations until they become second nature to you.

The Easy Contrast/ Question Interactivity Technique

For this technique to work, you have to look at your topic as a timeline. And on the timeline, there is a “big” event that had an enormous impact on you, the topic, or the industry. Before that “big” event happened, things were in a certain way, and after that event had taken place, things changed dramatically.

An example of such events could be 911, the 2008 house market crash, the Gulf War, the passing of Steve Jobs, etc.

Of course, the event does not have to be dramatic (especially if you are presenting internally to your team). It can be when the FDA denied a drug your company is working on, or when you had to Pivot your startup, or when you had to change a direction on a project.

Once you have that event, follow the step-by-step formula below.

Step-By-Step-Formula:

1. Introduce your topic

2. Describe a state before (something) happened. DON’T reveal what happened yet.

3. Describe a state after that thing happened.

4. Ask the audience if they know what happened?

5. Get some answers from the audience

6. Answer and explain

Here is an example from Biology

1. Introduce your topic

There is a phenomenon in Biological history called the Cambrian Explosion. For years, scientists hypothesized about the cause of it, but nothing made sense. Until, Andrew Parker, an Australian scientist explained it with a theory called The Light Switch Theory.

2. Describe a state before (something) happened. Don’t say what the something is.

Before the Cambrian Explosion, most of life on Earth was in the form of simple organisms.

3. Describe a state after that thing happened.

After the Cambrian Explosion, 500 million years ago, the rate of diversification in life accelerated to an order of magnitude. We began to see organisms, animals, reptiles, and all kinds of life on earth.

4. Ask that audience if they know what happened?

Do you know what happened 500 million years ago that caused this Cambrian Explosion?

5. Get some answers from the audience

People will guess. They may or may not guess your answer. It does not matter.

6. Answer and explain

It’s Eyes. The sense of sight developed according to fossil records. That’s why Andrew Parker called it the Light Switch Theory (It’s just a theory, maybe it’s not true). When predators developed sight, other forms of life had to develop defense mechanisms to protect themselves and survive. So different shapes, colors, and behaviors had to evolve causing an evolutionary explosion. Now we call that the Cambrian Explosion.

Ok here it is in complete form

There is a phenomenon in Biological history called the Cambrian Explosion. For years, scientists hypothesized about the cause of it, but nothing made sense. Until, Andrew Parker, an Australian scientist explained it with a theory called The Light Switch Theory.

Before the Cambrian Explosion, most of life on Earth was in the form of simple organisms.

After the Cambrian explosion, 500 million years ago, the rate of diversification in life accelerated to an order of magnitude. We began to see organisms, animals, reptiles, and all kinds of life on earth.

Do you know what happened 500 million years ago that caused this Cambrian Explosion?

It’s Eyes. The sense of sight developed according to fossil records. That’s why Andrew Parker called it the Light Switch Theory (It’s just a theory, maybe it’s not true). When predators developed sight, other forms of life had to develop defense mechanisms to protect themselves and survive. So different shapes, colors, and behaviors had to evolve causing an evolutionary explosion. Now we call that the Cambrian Explosion.

Now it’s your turn, create something and share it in the comments below. Would love to read your comments and questions.

Conclusion

Interactive presentations are always more fun, more educational and more influential than data dumps.  To be recognized by your peers and management as an effective communicator, you need to add interactivity to your presentations.

You don’t have to do a lot – just 2-3 times in each presentation will be more than enough. Hope this technique will help you with one of these times. By stringing few techniques like this one in each of your presentations is how you make your presentations interactive even if you are not a natural.

Peter Khoury

Peter Khoury: Founder @ MagneticSpeaking X-Pharmaceutical Engineer, turned author, national speaker and executive presentation coach.

In addition to Public Speaking training, Peter is a regular speaker on the topics of Negotiations, Conflict Management and Leadership. He is the author of the book “Self-Leadership Guide.

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