Friday, June 27, 2008

Presentation Sensory Orchestration

Writen by John Dir

There are many factors that have been considered over the years which help people distinguish between good and poor presentation techniques. In the sea of information for preparing a great presentation, the focus is usually centered on visual aids, and speaking techniques. Certainly, the primary attention given to information and speaking quality is warranted, because so many times, one or the other is seriously lacking when efforts are unsuccessful. These principal elements are the first steps in achieving a style that will immerse the audience in what they are receiving, and cause them to engage or disengage in the process of absorbing what you have to share.

On a higher level, successful presentation is actually centered on the art of sensory orchestration. No matter what you are presenting, or how well prepared you are to get the point across, there will always be a percentage of the audience that does not come along for the ride. In order to increase the number of people who do identify with you, there are some little known areas of skill that merit consideration. Historically, there have been some people who have applied these elements with great success, either consciously or unconsciously. Effective sales presentations incorporate many of the same elements that can move people to support a political agenda.

As a speaker, it is important to understand how to use the advantages presented by your environment, how to appeal to the needs of the audience that your subject or product offers to resolve, and how to engage people with the use of familiar imagery that allows them to identify closely with what you are telling them. Appropriate sensory orchestration of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste can be interwoven with your message to reinforce participation and acceptance of the concepts you are presenting. Most speakers are familiar with engaging the audience through sights and sounds. People use these senses when they listen to your speech, and look at the various forms of media that you employ. Many presenters do not understand the increased benefits they can obtain by intentionally engaging aspects of the remaining three senses; smell, taste, and touch. The influence on learning and acceptance which each of the three remaining senses have are worth examining individually.

1. Using Taste - How often do you find yourself recalling a situation or circumstance associated with a past experience that is triggered by something you are eating? This experience can be good or bad. Maybe you get a sense of comfort and love from recalling the taste of your grandmother's apple pie, or a sense of dread from being forced by your patents to eat cold spinach as a form of punishment before you were allowed to leave the table. Have you ever found yourself recalling a particular social function you attended during a meal that includes an item from the menu presented at that event? Does information you heard during a meeting at work come flooding back to you when you taste a particularly bad cup of coffee?

When you focus on the association between tastes and learning, it is not a great leap to recognize how these same processes can be intentionally used to create new connections. During a presentation, a speaker can introduce common elements like sweets, drinks, or other snacks to engage and reinforce the information being absorbed by the audience. You can use food to reward people for response, or introduce food items during particularly strategic portions of the informative session . As the audience members partake in eating, they will also be physically reinforcing what you tell them on an autonomic level. Have you ever wondered why speakers begin their presentations while the audience is finishing up their dessert? Taste is a powerful tool for including in the presentation arsenal.

2. Using smell - Like taste, the sense of smell can create powerful associations in the learning process. Again, the effect of odors can be positive or negative in establishing these connections. The smell of popcorn, cologne, scented candles, or other pleasant odors create autonomic connections to the events which take place when these are introduced into the environment. With a little imagination, you can reinforce the learning process by incorporating scents along with segments of information you have to share. When people smell these things again, they will be more likely to remember portions of your own information, whether they realize the connection or not. In earlier times, film makers experimented with the power of smell by incorporating smells from "scratch and sniff" cards that were used interactively with portions of the movie. Whatever level of success this practice demonstrated, the very thought of "scratch and sniff" cards brings back a flood of memories to those who participated in viewing these films.

3. Using touch - It is a well researched fact that in the process of human interaction, the sense of touch plays a significant role in establishing more effective communication. A handshake, or a touch on the shoulder, or any other sort of physical contact can initiate a more powerful sensory orchestration between people. The sense of touch transfers a level of intimacy that is not possible to capture by sight and sound alone. A good speaker can make an extra connection with the audience by shaking hands with them as they enter, or spending time after the presentation meeting with the people who have listened. You can use participation as a tool, bringing people from the audience up to assist with some portion of the demonstration, and making physical contact with them as they come to the stage.

If you make no other connection, you will find a closer association being established with the members of the audience you have physically touched. How many people have you seen at a live concert whose greatest and most memorable thrill was being able to touch or be touched in some way by the performer? This impact is effective whether the event is big or small. Touch can also be used and reinforced through a reward system. You can give people something in return for their participation in your presentation. This reward can range from a special document, to a trinket of some kind. No matter what you choose to personally give them, the act will go a long way in gaining their positive response to your message.

If you have traditionally found yourself giving presentations by appealing to only two of the five available senses, you should make an effort to experience the benefits of adding sensory orchestration techniques to the mix.

Director of Software Concepts BHO Technologists - LittleTek Center. Please provide a rating for the article to help us determine future content choices.

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