Making the “Un-presentation”

I was recently on a panel for the Center for Non-Profit Success Boston Summit.

I’ve done a number of presentations, but this went differently.

In preparing for our session, one of the panelists–Jon Wojciechowski, Senior VP with PROP-People's Regional Opportunity Program – suggested a Q&A approach rather than the traditional three-mini-speeches-followed-by-audience-participation.

We each prepared a list of questions addressing what we thought attendees might want to learn. Out of the combined list, we picked nine questions we felt covered the most important topics/issues.

For each of these, one of us took the lead in answering, while the other two chimed in with additional comments or perspective as appropriate. Attendees could ask questions or make comments at any point.

Did it work?

This was the last session on the second day of a two-day conference. At 4:45, the scheduled close, dialogue was still going strong. About five minutes later the first attendee got up to leave, apologizing that she had to catch a bus.

The group began to break, but the most-involved participants stayed for another 15 minutes or so.

Revolutionary concept, right?
• Begin at the end: what does the listener/prospect want/need to know? (vs. what do you want to say!)
• Keep information in bite-size, manageable chunks.
• Structure the process to facilitate and respond to feedback.

Wait a minute ... That's starting to sound like communication. I thought this was supposed to be a presentation