Think about your favourite restaurant, why do you keep going back? After all there are hundreds of different eating places with in easy reach all of which serve meat and vegetables. So what makes you favourite the best? Is it the raw materials, they way they are combined, the way they are cooked or is it nothing to do with the food, may be it is the ambience of the establishment, the décor, the level of service you receive, or there again it could just be the price but I think that is unlikely?
In all likelihood it is a combination of things which make it your favourite; it is unlikely just to be the raw materials the chef uses, although this obviously has a role to play.
The same applies to presentations, it is not just the bare facts conveyed that make a presentation interesting and enjoyable. The basis of the presentation is important. You want to use the best ingredients for your presentation, but the effectiveness of a presentation has a lot to do with the way the information is delivered. When you are giving a presentation you need to behave like the staff of your favourite restaurant.
To start with, when you are planning the menu as the chef, you want to offer some variety which will make it appeal to a wide range of different people. There will be members of your audience who are looking for a light lunch who just need an overview and those who are ready to tuck in and want the real meat of the subject.
When you are cooking your presentation add some spice and seasoning, plain food never won a Michelin star. Think how you can weave some stories around your subject, introduce some light hearted humour and make the contents of your presentation look interesting as well as tasting delicious.
When you are delivering your presentation, you need to be in the role of the amiable waiter. Start by looking like you are enjoying what you do, remember to smile. Nobody likes being served by a dour waiter. You want to be friendly but not over familiar, your role is to serve not to be part of the group who are dining. The customer is always right, so don’t talk down to the audience or start an argument with them.
For a business presentation the presenter should always be dressed as smartly if not more smartly then their audience. You don’t find many good restaurants where the waiters have dress down Fridays.
One of the first tasks a waiter always undertakes is to ask his clients what they would like to eat, and how they would like their steak cooked. The same hold true for presentations, if you don’t already know what your audience would like to hear and how they like their information presented, then ask them. Make the presentation interactive.
Remember that you audience are your customers and that you are there to serve them, to give them what they asked for not what you want to serve. Nobody would return to a restaurant that just shoved what the chef had cooked in front of the diners and expected them to eat it.
Finally, give the audience the time to enjoy the presentation, don’t rush them but be attentive and look out for any signals that you are taking too long. Talking too quickly makes it hard for your audience to keep up with you and some may switch off and stop listening. On the other hand you always want to make sure that you have stopped talking before your audience have stopped listening.
To make people come back for more remember to serve them well.