1. Science / Technology

Setup Your Presentation Goals in 2022

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Before you stand up to give a presentation, you probably set goals for yourself, right? Things like presents with confidence. 

Audience goals keep you focused on the exact change you are hoping to accomplish. It might be to help the audience understand a new policy, to join a work team, or to purchase a product. Best-selling author Dr. Stephen Covey says you should “begin with the end in mind.” In other words, you should know what you hope to accomplish before you start writing your presentation. And that’s what we are talking about today.

If you are preparing a presentation in hopes that it will be effective, you need to understand how humans learn and then set specific learning goals for your audience. So let’s talk about different levels of learning and how to leverage these in your presentation design services.

Looking at those levels, ask yourself, what is it that I want my audience to be able to do at the end of my presentation? If you simply want them to remember the key terms or points, a presentation focused on remembering is fine. But if you want them to be able to apply the information you are presenting, you’ll need to aim a little higher.

Let’s discuss some specific ways to accomplish each learning level goal in your presentations. Keep in mind that they are cumulative; they build upon each other. So if your ultimate goal is to get your audience to the application level, you need to also use the tips in the lower levels that come before application. Let’s get started.

Keep the main terms in your presentation the same. If you tell your audience you are going to cover “how caffeine affects your brain and body,” don’t switch that to “cerebral and physical effects of caffeine” later in your presentation. Certain words become anchor points for your audience. They are listening for them. And they use them to orient themselves within the presentation, so don’t switch them up.

Also, repeat the terms of points that you want the audience to retain at least 3 times. Once in the introduction, once in the body of your message, and once as you are reviewing your conclusion.

The above example gets partly into application because the students were asked to take a quiz on the information. That shows that they were able to apply what they had learned. But I’m guessing you aren’t planning to give your audience members a quiz following your presentation. Instead, you can achieve this level of learning by asking your audience to provide some examples of their own. Once you’ve explained a point or concept, ask for feedback either by opening the floor for them to share examples or by asking them to share examples in small groups.

At this stage of learning, you should start to view your audience members not as students, but as decision-makers. In order for your audience to make the best decision, they have to be able to analyze your ideas, so you need to help them understand all the component parts. Say for example you are giving a sales pitch. Helping them analyze might mean that your presentation needs to cover the history of your product, the motivating factor for its creation, the ways in which it solves problems for other customers, data on its cost-effectiveness, statistics on how it compares to its competitors, etc. This stage illustrates why Bloom’s taxonomy can be so helpful for setting your audience presentation goals. If your audience doesn’t need to analyze or make decisions, you can leave out some of this more detailed and granular information.

With this level of learning, you are helping your audience form opinions about your ideas. You are asking them to assign value and judge something to be right/wrong, good/bad, helpful/not helpful, true/false, and so on. One of the main goals of information presentation is to help your audience get to the place where they judge your content to be worthy of their time, attention, money, respect, or support. In order to do this, you need to show how the information you’ve presented affects their daily lives in a positive way. Without this explicit connection, the audience can too easily dismiss your presentation as irrelevant.

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