Keeping Your Presentation Fresh When Your Content Stays the Same

Two arrows going around in a circle indicating a fresh perspective

Anyone delivering similar content on a repeat basis faces the challenge of keeping things fresh. Maybe you’re in sales and must discuss the same information in every sales call. Perhaps you give the same presentation at various conferences. When rolling out an HR initiative, you provide the same content to multiple audience groups across different functions.

Even among seasoned training colleagues, we often hear some version of this question: “How do I keep things interesting when I’ve delivered the same information for weeks/months/years?”

We can completely empathize with the fear of going on autopilot and forgetting whether we already delivered that part—or was that from the session last week or the week before?

The key to keeping it fresh won’t come as a surprise, but it may seem easier said than done. Each delivery and every group of listeners is different. By focusing on that fact, you’ll be able to let their reactions drive you forward. The question you should be asking yourself throughout is “Do they understand what I want them to understand? Are they getting it?” Understanding the nuances of each group requires a deep level of engagement so that you can think on your feet.

During Your Presentation

Stay focused on the people in front of you. One of the quickest ways to accidentally shift into autopilot is to mentally disengage from your audience. The more you stay focused on the people in the room with you right now, the more they’ll feel your attention and the more grounded you’ll be.

Use eye contact to read faces and respond. If you’re plugged into reading people’s faces during your delivery, you might get some welcome surprises.  Someone will ask a question you’ve never heard before, or someone will have a clever way of restating a complex concept so that it’s easier to understand. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss those things and potentially risk losing your audience. Remember, if you’re not engaged and paying attention, why should they be?

Use their situations to reinforce your points. Because Orderly Conversations are designed for give and take, you will likely get questions based on people’s jobs. This is an opportunity to probe and expand your thinking about your topic. Always be curious about their needs and perspectives. If you listen well and get to the bottom of their questions, you can adapt to their needs.

Before You Present

There are things you can do in preparation to help you stay fresh with repeating content. When we talk about framing your presentation, a crucial part of that frame is describing your listeners’ current situation. Usually, it’s something like, “As you know, the company is changing insurance carriers,” or “There’s been a huge increase in the number of residences with solar panels, and as realtors, we need to be on top of that.” If you’ve followed us for any length or read The Orderly Conversation, you know we are big fans of framing every meeting, presentation, and training session. Framing helps you adapt your message for a specific audience at a particular time.

Think about what’s happening around them. If you’re presenting to an external group you don’t know much about, check the business section and the regional news to see if there’s anything crucial going on that might affect how your audience will receive your material. Some examples might be—

  • “I know some of you may have been affected by yesterday’s flooding. If you’re distracted or need to step out, just let me know.” (Your audience will appreciate your understanding. Moreover, you’ll probably get more focused attention because you’ve permitted them to do what they need to.)
  • “My information speaks to how our business usually works. However, I read that your state legislature voted yesterday to change industry standards. Accordingly, I’ll try to address that as I go.” (Then, of course, you’ll need to do just that.)
  • “Congratulations on your recent industry award! As we talk today, I hope you’ll share what is working well for you so I can weave that into my presentation.” (People love to engage with what has made them successful, so use that to your advantage).
  • “With Anna’s retirement, I know you’re facing a lot of change. Accordingly, I’ve left a lot of time to discuss how this material fits with the other transitions you’re experiencing.” (Here, you can demonstrate empathy and practical problem-solving).

Think about your audience’s jobs and focus. If you can, talk to your contact about what’s happening in the company and the department you’ll be working with. What are their main strengths? Stressors? In another blog post, I address how to make it easy for your audience to get what they need. What does “easy” look like for these particular people? You probably won’t have to make significant adaptations to your materials. However, you might change the time you spend on certain parts of your material or give them more time to discuss.

Tailor your examples. If you present to different industries or functions within a company, think about doing research beforehand to find examples that fit each audience. For example, suppose you’re teaching employees how to use a new intranet. In that case, you might use accounting examples when you talk to Payroll people. Similarly, you might use social media examples when you talk with Digital Marketing folks.

After You Leave                                                          

If you do any follow-up with your audience, whether it’s sending out final documents or just thanking them for their time, customize your correspondence to include meaningful moments or examples from the meeting. To that end, you might reference breakthrough discoveries, a new way of looking at your content from your session, or even an in-joke that developed during your time together.

Remember that each audience is a new opportunity to tweak, adjust, and customize. The more engaged, interested and responsive you are to your with your audience’s needs, the more it will feel like a fresh first time.

Our methodology is based on our book, The Orderly Conversation®, a groundbreaking resource that offers a proven, practical approach for developing and delivering presentations that move business forward.


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