If you are giving a talk/presentation in an internal meeting or at a conference, it is easy to allow time for the audience to engage in a little conversation.
Let’s say you have 40 minutes for your talk, divide it roughly like this:
- Your presentation/talk say 20 minutes.
- Pose a question – it could be “What did you make of my talk?” or it could be more specific and related to some aspect of your speech.
- Tell the audience that now, before taking questions, you are gong to give them ten mins to have a conversation around your question.
- Tell them to turn to each other in 2s, 3s or 4s (no more) and have the conversation.
- This will work even in a lecture theater (see the video below)
- If they are sitting at large conference tables (typical) say 6 – 8 people per table – tell them not to hold a table conversation but to break into smaller groups – that 3 or 4 people per group is important to give everyone an opportunity to fully engage in the conversation.
- Give them the 10 or so minutes to have the conversation (maybe a little less if they seem to lose energy or don’t take to it (in some cultures/situations they don’t).
- Just do a single round of conversation (not three like a regular Cafe – there is rarely enough time).
- After the ten minutes, stop the conversation and take Q&A for another ten minutes.
- If your actual talk runs a little over time, just cut back a little on the time you give for conversation or Q&A – if anything, reduce or eliminate the Q&A time – it is the least valuable part – not the conversation time.
This page is part of an online book on Conversational Leadership that I am in the process of writing.
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